Prosecutors on Wednesday filed a murder charge against a repeat DUI offender accused of being drunk when he fatally struck a pedestrian along Washington Boulevard in Pasadena on Friday night, authorities said.
Martin Cesar Villagomez, 48, of Pasadena entered no plea during his court appearance, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago. His arraignment hearing was postponed to Thursday in the Pasadena branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Villagomez had a blood-alcohol level initially measured at nearly twice the legal limit of .08 percent following Friday’s 11:30 p.m. collision at Washington Boulevard and Palm Terrace, according to Pasadena police Cpl. Jose Urita.
Christopher Andrew Mendez, 36, was crossing Washington Boulevard at an unmarked intersection when he was struck by a westbound GMC SUV being driven by Villagomez, police said.
Paramedics pronounced Mendez dead at the scene.
Villagomez remained at the scene as well, officials said. Investigating officers quickly determined he appeared to be under the influence of alcohol and arrested him.
The suspect already had two prior convictions for driving with a blood-alcohol level above .08 percent, known as California’s “per se” DUI law, in 2003 and 1999, as well as a conviction for reckless driving in 1995, according to Los Angeles County Superior Court records.
Based on his prior DUI convictions, Villagomez became eligible to be charged with murder under California law, said Pasadena police Lt. Max Dahlstein.
The investigation was ongoing, including piecing together where Villagomez was and what he had been doing in the hours leading up to the deadly collision, Urita said. He was believed to have been drinking at at least one establishment in West Covina shortly before the crash.
Bail for Villagomez was set at $2 million, records show.