A 23-year-old Huntington Beach man who told jailers that he was a Narcotics Anonymous counselor was charged Tuesday with second- degree murder, hit-and-run and drug possession charges in the death of a bicyclist in Newport Beach.
In addition to the murder count, Neil Storm Stephany faces one count each of hit-and-run with permanent and serious injury and unlawful possession of a controlled substance, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Walker.
Stephany, who was ordered held on $1 million bail, made his initial court appearance this afternoon, but his arraignment was rescheduled to Nov. 14. He also faces alleged probation violations stemming from previous cases, inclding a DUI conviction three years ago.
Stephany was driving a Toyota Tacoma west on East Coast Highway about 5 p.m. Sunday when his vehicle collided with bicyclist Shaun Eagleson, who died of his injuries about 9:45 that night, according to Newport Beach police. The 30-year-old Fountain Valley man was also westbound when he was struck near Los Trancos.
Stephany, who allegedly fled the scene, was later arrested at Newport Center Drive and East Coast Highway and told jail personnel that he was a Narcotics Anonymous counselor, according to Jennifer Manzella of the Newport Beach Police Department.
Stephany would typically have faced a manslaughter charge, but because he has a prior conviction for driving under the influence, he instead faces a murder charge, authorities said. Defendants convicted of DUI are, by law, warned they could face a murder charge if they are involved in a deadly accident involving drugs or alcohol.
Stephany pleaded guilty to misdemeanor driving under the influence on Oct. 4, 2011, and was sentenced to a two-day jail term and placed on three years of informal probation. He had to do another eight days in jail in the case on Feb. 3 of this year, according to court records.
Stephany pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell on Oct. 14, 2010, and was immediately sentenced to a year in jail and placed on three years of formal probation, court records show. On May 19, 2011, he was sentenced to another 90 days in jail in the case.
On Aug. 6 of last year, Stephany pleaded guilty to assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury and unlawful possession of a controlled substance, both felonies, and was immediately sentenced to 180 days in jail and placed on three years of formal probation. He was also ordered to participate in a drug or alcohol program.
Stephany was sentenced to another 90 days in jail on the case on Feb. 3 of this year, according to court records.
— City News Service