Guilty Plea From DUI Driver Who Led Police Chase, Crashed, In Murrieta

MURRIETA, CA — A probationer who led Murrieta police on a chase through the city in a stolen vehicle, then crashed at the intersection of Nutmeg Street and Jackson Avenue, injuring eight people, pleaded guilty Wednesday to felony charges.

Under a plea agreement, Ricardo Avila Perez, 31, of Perris admitted eluding law enforcement resulting in great bodily injury and driving under the influence of drugs resulting in injuries. In exchange for his guilty pleas, prosecutors dropped charges of possession of a stolen vehicle and possession of controlled substances for sale.

Superior Court Judge Jiff Zimel scheduled a sentencing hearing for May 6 at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta. The prosecution and defense stipulated a five-year term of imprisonment.

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Perez remains held without bail at Riverside’s Robert Presley Detention Center.

The incident began at 10:50 a.m. March 5 when Murrieta police officers spotted a stolen vehicle driven near the intersection of Juniper Street and Jefferson Avenue.

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Officers repeatedly tried to pull the driver over but he sped away each time, according to the Murrieta Police Department.

A witness said the vehicle was a white Acura Integra.

“The pursuit continued on city streets, subsequently ending when the suspect vehicle ran a red light at the intersection of Nutmeg Street and Jackson Avenue and collided with three other vehicles,” according to the police department.

The driver of the stolen vehicle — Perez — and his female passenger, along with six other people inside the other crash vehicles, were transported to local hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

Perez was arrested on suspicion of evading an officer and causing injury, violating the terms of his postrelease community supervision, possession of methamphetamine for sale, and other pending charges, according to Murrieta police.

The intersection was closed for several hours during the crash investigation.

According to court records, the defendant has a string of prior felony and misdemeanor convictions, including evading, receiving a stolen vehicle, being a felon in possession of a gun and driving under the influence of drugs.

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