A Riverside man was convicted Wednesday of second-degree murder in the death of his passenger in a crash that occurred during a police chase that started in Westminster.
Javier Homero Montoya, 44, was also convicted of two felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer, and jurors found true sentencing enhancements for a secondary offense committed while out on bail.
Montoya, who has a 2000 residential burglary conviction in Riverside County on his record, was driving his Ford F-150 pickup truck out of the parking lot of a 24 Hour Fitness about 7:15 p.m. Dec. 1, 2014, when he refused to comply with a routine traffic stop, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Walker.
Montoya led police on a high-speed chase that went onto the San Diego (405) Freeway, where he slammed on his brakes, causing a Westminster police officer’s squad car to ram the back of the truck, Walker said.
Montoya rammed the truck into the side of the officer’s car before driving off, the prosecutor said.
Westminster police encountered Montoya again about 11:30 that night and the defendant again refused to stop and led police on another high-speed chase on the 405 Freeway with the truck’s headlights off, Walker said, but this time, his friend, 43-year-old Alberto Marquez, was in the passenger seat.
Montoya lost control of the truck near the Long Beach (710) Freeway and crashed into trees and light poles on the side of the road, Walker said. Both occupants were pulled out of the fiery wreckage, but Marquez was pronounced dead at the scene and the defendant escaped with minor injuries, Walker said.