A drugged driver who caused a multi-vehicle crash on Interstate 15 in Temecula that killed a woman pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree murder and other charges.

Javier Caldera, 27, of Auburn, Washington, admitted the murder count, as well as felony driving under the influence of drugs, reckless driving and hit-and-run with sentence-enhancing great bodily injury allegations in a plea directly to Riverside County Superior Court Judge F. Paul Dickerson.

During a status hearing, the judge accepted a defense motion for Caldera to admit all counts in exchange for possibly leniency. The District Attorney’s Office was not a party to the court plea.

Dickerson declined to indicate exactly what term of imprisonment he might impose during the sentencing hearing on July 28 at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta. The minimum possible sentence is 15 years to life in state prison, though it could go up to 23 years to life.

The defendant is being held without bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning while awaiting sentencing.

The June 4, 2019, collision killed 44-year-old Janet Genao of Murrieta.

Caldera was behind the wheel of a Chevrolet Silverado traveling over 100 mph on southbound I-15, near Rancho California Road, when his pickup slammed into the back of Genao’s Nissan Altima at 7:28 a.m., causing a chain-reaction crash involving four other vehicles, according to prosecutors.

The force of the impact also sent a Chevrolet S-10 pickup off the road and into the side of the Temecula City Hall parking structure, just west of the freeway, mangling the truck and rendering it nearly unrecognizable, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The driver suffered major injuries from which he has since recovered. Two other motorists suffered minor injuries, as did Caldera, and another driver whose vehicle was hit escaped injury, the CHP said.

All of the injured parties were treated at Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar.

Prosecutors said the defendant has prior convictions in Washington state, including driving under the influence and felony attempt to elude law enforcement.

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.

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