DUI Alleged In Deadly Vegas CHP Officer Crash
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Charges of driving under the influence causing death were added Thursday to murder and other counts against a California man accused of stealing an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer’s pickup truck from a casino valet stand and crashing it, killing the officer and a relative as they tried to stop him.
James Robert Montgomery’s blood-alcohol level was 0.197 percent, prosecutor Michael Staudaher said. That is almost 2 1/2 times Nevada’s legal limit of 0.08 percent.
A judge in Las Vegas postponed a preliminary hearing until Oct. 4 after the additional charges were filed in the Aug. 18 crash that killed veteran CHP Officer Jesus Manuel Magdaleno Jr. and Magdaleno’s brother-in-law, Felix Brandon Cruz III.
Magdaleno and Cruz had been in Las Vegas for Magdaleno’s bachelor party, and police say they were loading Magdaleno’s pickup with luggage at checkout time when Montgomery got into the driver’s seat of the Ford F-150 pickup and drove away from the valet area at the Flamingo hotel-casino.
Magdaleno, 33, a U.S. Marine veteran and an eight-year CHP patrol and training officer, was buried Tuesday in his hometown of Visalia, Calif. He would have been married next month.
Cruz, 31, a real estate businessman and father of two who was married to Magdaleno’s sister, was buried Thursday.
Montgomery, 29, a Whole Foods supermarket supervisor from Tustin, Calif., was previously charged with murder, kidnapping, robbery, burglary and auto theft. The murder and kidnapping charges could get Montgomery life in prison if he is convicted.
Defense attorney Michael Becker told the Las Vegas Sun that he thinks someone may have slipped Montgomery a drug.
Becker and associates didn’t immediately respond to messages from The Associated Press.
Montgomery was being held without bail at the Clark County jail. Becker has said he may file a written request for the judge to set bail.
Police say Magdaleno ran after the pickup with Montgomery at the wheel, shouting that he was a CHP officer and jumping into the cargo bed with Cruz.
The pickup sped wildly away from the Strip, hitting construction cones and speeding through red lights on an Interstate 15 overpass before colliding with an SUV and smashing into a traffic signal pole in front of the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino, about a mile west of the Flamingo.
Magdaleno and Cruz were fatally injured when they were thrown out of the bed of the pickup. Two children in the SUV were treated for minor injuries, police said.
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