Los Angeles County Criminal Courts Building. Photo by John Schreiber.
Los Angeles County Criminal Courts Building. Photo by John Schreiber.

A teenage boy pleaded not guilty Thursday to murder and carjacking charges for allegedly jumping into a car owned by a 19-year-old man, who tried to hang onto the car door and was thrown off when the sedan crashed into a Boyle Heights business and burst into flames.

Jorge Ruiz, 17, is charged as an adult in connection with the Nov. 23 crash that killed Oscar Perez.

The murder charge includes a special circumstance allegation of murder during the commission of a carjacking.

Ruiz could face a maximum of life in prison without the possibility of parole if he is convicted as charged. He cannot face the death penalty because of his age.

Perez had been involved in a collision with a 16-year-old driver and was outside his Nissan Altima to try to get the teenager’s information when Ruiz allegedly got into Perez’s vehicle — which had been left running — and drove away.

Perez managed to hang onto the driver’s side door as Ruiz drove for about a half-mile at a high rate of speed, according to prosecutors.

The car crashed into a building at 3544 E. Olympic Blvd. and erupted into flames. Perez died at the scene, and Ruiz suffered major injuries.

Ruiz is due back in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom Feb. 19, when a date is scheduled to be set for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to require him to stand trial.

City News Service

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