A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy pleaded not guilty Friday to murder and reckless driving charges for an off-duty crash in Torrance last summer that killed his 23-year-old passenger and seriously injured two other people.
Daniel Manuel Auner, 23, was allegedly speeding when his car crashed into a traffic pole at the corner of Crenshaw Boulevard and 190th Street just after midnight last July 8, fatally injuring his front-seat passenger, Ashley Wells, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Two other passengers in the vehicle suffered serious injuries.
Auner has been jailed in lieu of $1 million bail since his May 25 arrest by Torrance police, but Superior Court Judge Thomas Sokolov lowered his bail to $100,000 with the conditions that he undergo electronic monitoring and alcohol testing and not drive a motor vehicle or consume any alcohol.
Auner was charged May 26 with one count each of murder and reckless driving on a highway causing injury with an allegation of causing great bodily injury.
“Reckless driving can be deadly and no one knows that more than law enforcement officers,” District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement announcing the charges.
Auner is one of three Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies to be charged within about two weeks.
A day after the case against Auner was filed, Kevin Honea was charged with a felony count of perjury for allegedly lying about finding a gun in a vehicle parked at a Gardena motel in May 2019. Honea, 33, pleaded not guilty and is awaiting a hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence to allow the case against him to proceed to trial.
On June 4, Nicole Bell was charged with one count each of assault by a peace officer, accessing and altering computer data without permission and altering, planting or concealing evidence as a peace officer involving a July 2019 arrest in Lancaster. An arraignment date has not yet been set in that case.
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