lady justice 2 16-9

A 25-year-old Westminster man who fled to Nebraska after an alleged drunken driving crash that killed his friend pleaded not guilty Friday to second-degree murder.

Jonathan Aaron Samoff, arrested las month in Omaha, Nebraska, slammed his compact car into a brick wall in the 14000 block of Magnolia Street about 3:15 a.m. on March 8.

Samoff is accused of drunken driving and speeding in the crash that before lost control of the car and slammed into a wall, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Walker.

Samoff helped his 25-year-old friend Isaias Tang get out of the vehicle, but he left him lying in the street — where Tang later was pronounced dead, Walker said.

Samoff ran away from the crash scene and received some sort of medical care locally before fleeing the state, Walker said.

Samoff has been charged with murder because he had a prior conviction for drunken driving in Los Angeles County in 2009 and was warned when he pleaded guilty that he could face a murder charge if he were involved in a deadly DUI crash, Walker said.

Samoff could receive up to 15 years to life in prison if convicted at trial.

He was ordered to return to court for a pretrial hearing on Jan. 23.

Bail was set at $1 million.

City News Service

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