A woman accused of driving while impaired and killing a 20-year-old skateboarder on a Banning street, then speeding off without stopping, pleaded not guilty Thursday to second-degree murder and other charges.
Lilliana Ruvalcaba Diaz, 29, of Banning was arrested last month following a roughly yearlong investigation into the death of Leron Sanders.
Along with murder, Diaz is charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while driving under the influence and hit-and-run resulting in death.
She was arraigned before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Timothy Hollenhorst, who scheduled a felony settlement conference for March 29 at the Banning Justice Center.
The judge kept Diaz’s bail at $1 million, though her attorney submitted a bail reduction motion that will be considered at the settlement conference.
The defendant is being held at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.
Sanders was struck about 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 8, 2019, in the area of Apex and Ramsey streets. Police allege Diaz, at the wheel of a silver sedan, veered onto the pedestrian path and hit the skateboarder, then sped away immediately afterward.
Witnesses called 911, and Riverside County Fire Department paramedics reached the location within a few minutes, pronouncing Sanders dead at the scene.
“Detectives were able to locate, document and collect vehicle parts left behind by the suspect, along with additional evidence,” according to a police statement.
After eventually identifying the car involved, and its owner, detectives presented the case to the District Attorney’s Office, culminating in charges and a warrant being served at Diaz’s residence on Ramsey Street on Jan. 22.
The defendant has no documented prior felony convictions in Riverside County.
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