Lady Justice 3 16-9

A 20-year-old man accused of crashing a stolen pickup truck into a school bus, killing his passenger, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to murder and other charges.

Authorities say Douglas Vernon Fiddament of Pearblossom was behind the wheel of a 1997 Dodge Ram  with an RV trailer attached that crashed into a school bus on southbound 40th Street East, north of Bella Vita Way about 6:10 a.m. Jan. 13.

Manuel Lopez, a 33-year-old passenger in the truck, was killed.

The bus driver was not injured. No children were on the school bus at the time.

Fiddament is charged with one count each of murder, identity theft and receiving stolen property, two counts of possession for sale of methamphetamine and three counts of driving or taking a vehicle without consent — two of which involve the pickup truck and trailer and the other involving a Jeep Wrangler that was allegedly taken a few weeks earlier.

The criminal complaint also includes the allegations that Fiddament was convicted in September 2013 of taking a vehicle without consent and that he was free on bail at the time of the crash.

He is due back in a Lancaster courtroom June 15 for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to require him to stand trial.

City News Service

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