A Santa Fe Springs man was convicted Monday of murder and other charges for leading police on a pursuit that ended with a fiery crash in Whittier just over three years ago.
Kevin Vargas fled from an officer who tried to stop him for a traffic violation Feb. 18, 2019, and a brief pursuit ensued in which he drove onto a dead-end street, made a U-turn and drove toward police vehicles chasing him, authorities said.
Vargas’ car collided with the victim’s Ford Explorer near the corner of Wardman Street and Pickering Avenue. The driver of the Ford Explorer, Isaias Rodriguez Cruz, 61, died from blunt force trauma that day at a hospital.
Vargas was arrested after escaping from his car — which burst into flames — and fleeing from the scene of the crash.
Jurors found Vargas, now 27, guilty of one count each of second-degree murder, evading a peace officer causing death and hit-and-run driving resulting in death, along with four counts of assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer and two misdemeanor counts of hit-and-run with property damage.
Vargas is facing a potential life prison term, with sentencing set July 7 in a Norwalk courtroom.
Vargas has remained behind bars since his arrest, according to jail records.