A 22-year-old man who was out on bail in a stolen vehicle case and allegedly was trying to evade police in another stolen car when he was involved in a fatal crash last month in Torrance pleaded not guilty Wednesday to murder and other counts.
Zachary Thomas Alexander of San Pedro is charged with one count each of murder, fleeing a pursuing peace officer’s vehicle causing death and driving or taking a vehicle without consent after a prior conviction in connection with the Feb. 20 crash that killed Chunlei Wang, 56, of Torrance.
The criminal complaint includes allegations that Alexander was free on bail in another case at the time of the Presidents’ Day crash, and that he was convicted in two separate cases last year of driving or taking a vehicle without consent.
He also has convictions for possession for sale of methamphetamine in 2016, receiving stolen property exceeding $950 in 2014 and the sale or offer to sell or transportation of methamphetamine in 2013, according to the criminal complaint.
Wang died at the scene of the collision, which occurred shortly before 2 a.m. Feb. 20. Torrance police had been notified about 15 minutes before the crash that a silver Toyota Camry had been reported stolen in the area of Sepulveda Boulevard and Cabrillo Avenue.
Officers spotted the car pulling into a gas station at the intersection of Sepulveda Boulevard and Maple Avenue. Shortly afterward, the driver sped off northbound on Maple, at which time a pursuit began, Torrance police Sgt. Ronald Harris said. The Toyota continued northbound and struck the victim’s vehicle at the intersection of Maple Avenue and Carson Street, Harris said.
Alexander and his passenger, a 29-year-old San Pedro woman, were taken to an area hospital for treatment of what were described as minor injuries.
Alexander is being held in lieu of $2.2 million bail. He is due back in a Torrance courtroom April 24, when a date is scheduled to be set for a hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence to require him to stand trial.
— City News Service