Police with suspected hit-and-run driver. Courtesy OnScene.TV

An Escondido man pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges stemming from a hit-and-run crash last month in Panorama City that killed a 63-year-old pedestrian.

Mark Christian Johnson, 54, is charged with one felony count each of hit- and-run driving resulting in death, vehicular manslaughter and fleeing a pursuing peace officer’s motor vehicle while driving recklessly.

He is due back in court in San Fernando Sept. 15, when a date will be set for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence for him to stand trial.

Jose Serrano was walking in a marked crosswalk early July 30 on Sepulveda Boulevard and Parthenia Street when he was struck by a Toyota Prius.

Police began pursuing the Prius — which had sustained damage — after spotting it in the San Fernando area, according to the District Attorney’s Office. The chase ended in Pacific Palisades near Pacific Coast Highway, where a spike strip was laid down, police said.

After the Prius went over the spike strip, the car collided with a steel parking pillar in a private parking lot adjacent to Pacific Coast Highway and Porto Marina Way, and Johnson was taken into custody, police said.

Johnson, who was released the next day on bond, faces more than 10 years in state prison if convicted as charged, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

–City News Service 

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