Nineteen-year-old Danny David Ornelas of Huntington Park, accused of running down a Newport Beach woman with a car, pleaded not guilty to charges of murder Friday in Superior Court in Santa Ana. His trial is scheduled to start Feb. 15.
After an afternoon of heavy drinking with friends on the beach last month, Ornelas allegedly drove a friend’s car down a Balboa Peninsula alley at speeds of more than 50 m.p.h., and hit and killed local resident Debbie Killelea, 37. Police said he then ran off and was captured a short time later.
Prosecutors, pointing to a dramatic videotape of the incident that was recorded by a passenger in the car, allege that Ornelas swerved the car on purpose toward Killelea after she gestured for him to slow down.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Richard M. King told reporters after Ornelas’ arraignment that “whether he intended to kill her, whether he intended to hit her, whether he intended to scare her to us is insignificant” in deciding to charge Ornelas with murder.
But defense attorney Ralph Becangey of Beverly Hills said that what occurred was unintentional and suggested to reporters that the videotape may help him prove as much in court. He refused to elaborate.