A convicted felon who robbed several restaurants in Riverside and crashed his vehicle into a ravine while trying to evade police, sparking a brush fire, was sentenced Monday to nearly 32 years in state prison.
Jose Felipe Fernandez, 30, pleaded guilty last week to two counts of armed robbery and one count each of assault with a deadly weapon, resisting arrest, felony evading and making criminal threats. Several of the charges stemmed from separate incidents that occurred after Fernandez was jailed in 2017.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge David Gunn certified the terms of the plea agreement and imposed the sentence stipulated by the prosecution and defense.
Fernandez robbed a Pizza Hut in the area of Magnolia Avenue and Ross Street on July 20, 2017, and held up a nearby Carl’s Jr. one week later, according to Riverside police.
At the time, the defendant was suspected of robbing nearly two-dozen businesses in Los Angeles and Orange counties. The status of the investigations in those jurisdictions could not be immediately confirmed.
During the robbery at the Carl’s Jr. on the afternoon of July 27, 2017, a number of witnesses called 911 and provided a description of the getaway car, which was spotted minutes later by a Riverside police officer.
The patrolman initiated a traffic stop, and Fernandez acted as though he would comply with the lawman’s commands, but he sped away eastbound with the officer in pursuit, according to Officer Ryan Railsback.
The chase eventually reached the Mission Grove area of the city, where Fernandez ended up on two-lane roads running through hills, losing control on a cul de sac. The car plummeted into a gully, where the vehicle caught fire. The defendant attempted to flee on foot but was quickly apprehended.
The crash triggered a half-acre fire that briefly threatened several homes in the area of Mountain House and Kingdom drives.
In the months after he was jailed at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside, the defendant was involved in confrontations that resulted in additional charges being filed against him.
He had a prior conviction for assault with a semiautomatic weapon in San Joaquin County, according to court records.
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