A convicted gang-affiliated robber pleaded not guilty Friday to a hit-and-run collision in Orange that sent two victims to a hospital.

Juan Manuel Zuniga, who was arrested Wednesday, was charged in February with two counts of hit-and-run with injury with sentencing enhancements for inflicting great bodily injury on a man and woman. At his arraignment Friday he was ordered to return to court next Friday for a pretrial hearing.

The collision happened just before 5 p.m., May 17 of last year, at Batavia Street and Taft Avenue, said Sgt. Phil McMullin of the Orange Police Department.

Zuniga was driving a 2010 Lexus that crashed into a 2016 Honda Civic, McMullin said.

Police found the Lexus in the 1900 block of North Lyon Street in Santa Ana, McMullin said. The defendant’s sister falsely claimed she was the driver, but police obtained a DNA sample from the driver’s-side air bag and linked it to Zuniga, McMullin added.

The two victims who complained of pain to the head, neck back and shoulders were taken to an area hospital, McMullin said.

Zuniga was on probation at the time of the collision. He pleaded guilty April 28, 2017, to a felony count of second-degree robbery and admitted a sentencing enhancement for gang activity, and also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of street terrorism.

As part of the plea deal, charges of assault with a deadly weapon and assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury were dropped.

Zuniga was sentenced to 270 days in jail and placed on three years probation. He had 90 days tacked on to his sentence for a probation violation Jan. 17, 2018, and received another 180 days on Nov. 30 of last year.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.