SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The driver charged with murder in connection with a deadly Spring Valley rollover says he isn’t guilty.
Rene Ruiz, 27, appeared in court for an arraignment Thursday after refusing to appear Wednesday. A judge had to place an order forcing Ruiz to face seven charges, including murder, gross vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence.
The crash left 24-year-old Melanie Feliciano dead and abandoned along the 94 in Spring Valley. The California Highway Patrol says Ruiz was driving east on the road near Sweetwater Springs Boulevard with one woman in the passenger seat and Feliciano on the center console.
Feliciano wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, authorities say. Prosecutors say Ruiz was under the influence of drugs at the time of the crash.
They say he had things like cocaine, PCP, alcohol and Marijuana in his system. Feliciano was trapped and killed after the car struck a guardrail and rolled over into oncoming traffic. CHP says, after the crash, Ruiz and his passenger got out an walked away to hide in a nearby canyon.
Prosecutors say this isn’t the first time Ruiz has been in trouble with the law. When he was 18, he was charged for assault with a deadly weapon.
Since then, he’s also picked up drug and driving offences, such as driving on a suspended license and DUI.
If convicted, Ruiz faces 20 years to life in prison. His next court appearance is scheduled for September 28.