VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) – A retrial began Tuesday for a man previously convicted of intentionally run down an Oceanside Police officer during a 2017 traffic stop.
Roberto Ignacio Flores, 30, was previously found guilty in 2017 of attempted murder, but his conviction and 29-year-to-life prison sentence were overturned by an appellate court panel that ruled his attorney ignored the defendant's argument that he was innocent of the crime. The panel said Flores’ Sixth Amendment rights were violated, as he was not allowed to present the defense of his choice.
On June 19, 2017, Officer Brad Hunter pulled over another driver near Oceanside Boulevard when Flores, who happened to be driving by, allegedly accelerated and ran down Hunter with his car, sending him about 25 feet in the air and causing him to flip over the vehicle.
Hunter, a nearly 30-year veteran of the force, suffered head and leg injuries and was placed in a coma until swelling on his brain subsided.
Hunter was later forced to medically retire due to those injuries. He has no memory of that day, but he has recovered and is expected to testify at the retrial.
On Tuesday, Flores -- who is in custody on another matter -- was initially brought into Vista court in handcuffs. Deputies were on high alert, presumably due to previous alleged statements Flores made, while being recorded by undercover law enforcement, about killing cops.
Before Tuesday's opening statements began, Flores spoke out of turn, repeatedly asking for motions to dismiss the case and saying his rights were being violated.
The judge excused the jury and the public and sent Flores to a side room for trial, where he can listen.
It will be up to the judge whether Flores returns to the courtroom for trial.
Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe again argued that Flores bragged to an undercover sheriff's detective posing as an inmate, as well as a confidential informant, about hitting Hunter intentionally to try to kill him with the car.
For the retrial, Flores now faces charges of attempted murder and assault on a peace officer; he faces a sentence of 20 years to life if convicted.
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