A probationer accused of killing a 53-year-old pedestrian while driving under the influence in Perris must stand trial on a second-degree murder charge, a judge ruled Thursday.
Lizbet Diaz, 29, of Riverside is accused of running over Rogelio Merlan of Moreno Valley on the night of Nov. 9, 2019.
Following a preliminary hearing at the Riverside Hall of Justice, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Randall Stamen found there was sufficient evidence to warrant a trial on the murder count, as well as probation violations.
The judge scheduled a post-preliminary hearing arraignment for May 12 and left the defendant’s bail at $1 million. She’s being held at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.
According to sheriff’s Sgt. Orlando Castaneda, Diaz was allegedly speeding eastbound in her sedan on San Jacinto Avenue when she veered to the right, hitting two parked vehicles before plowing into Merlan, who was walking on the shoulder of the roadway near Dunlap Drive. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.
Diaz suffered a minor injury and was taken to Riverside University Medical Center in Moreno Valley for treatment, after which she was booked into jail.
Castaneda alleged that investigators confirmed at the hospital that the defendant was intoxicated.
According to court records, Diaz has a misdemeanor DUI conviction from 2018 that resulted in a sentence of 36 months probation, as well as compulsory attendance in a rehabilitation program that included classes stressing the dangers of drunken driving.
Under California law, a convicted DUI offender who is aware of the risks of drinking and driving and then causes someone’s death because of it can be charged with murder.