Man with multiple DUIs pleads not guilty to crash that killed pedestrian

Posted at 5:30 PM, Dec 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-09 20:30:46-05

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - A repeat DUI offender accused of killing a pedestrian near Otay Valley Regional Park while driving drunk pleaded not guilty Friday to murder, hit-and-run and other charges.

Nicholas Ruben Ramirez, 28, was ordered held on $2 million bail.

Lt. Eric Thunberg said Ramirez had just left a bar in the 1400 block of Third Avenue in Chula Vista when he allegedly crashed his car into a parked vehicle about 6:30 p.m. last Sunday and drove off.

He returned a few minutes later, and witnesses to the non-injury accident confronted him, the lieutenant said. Ramirez then sped off again and lost control of his car, which hopped a nearby curb and struck a man sitting on a bench at a bus stop, severing one of his legs, Thunberg alleged.

The victim -- identified as William Gerling -- was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Deputy District Attorney Cally Bright said the defendant's exact blood-alcohol level was not known, but an officer at the scene estimated it was well over .08 percent. The prosecutor said Ramirez has two prior DUIs from 2009.

He faces 20 years to life in prison if convicted of murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while impaired, as well as leaving the scene and several hit-and-run charges.

A readiness conference was set for March 9 and a preliminary hearing for April 13.