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Motorist to Face Trial in Freeway Death : Crime: Two vehicles hit Jiselle Honore Brando on I-5. One of the drivers, a Norwalk man, is accused of felony hit-and-run.

From Times Wires Services

A judge today ordered a man to stand trial on felony charges in connection with a freeway incident that killed Jiselle Honore Brando of Buena Park, daughter-in-law of actor Marlon Brando.

Jiselle Honore Brando, 29, wife of Miko Brando, died in the early hours of June 2 as she was trying to break up a fight between two friends on the southbound Santa Ana Freeway, prosecutors said.

After an hourlong preliminary hearing, a Municipal Court judge sitting in East Los Angeles ruled Friday that there is enough evidence to try Dennis Alberto Vanegas, 34, of Norwalk on charges of felony hit-and-run, drunk driving and driving with a suspended license.

Vanegas has twice been convicted of drunk driving. Prosecutors said, however, that there is no evidence that Vanegas could have avoided hitting Jiselle Honore Brando.

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Jiselle Honore Brando was driving south on the freeway with two male friends about 2:45 a.m. June 2 when the men began arguing, prosecutors said.

Brando pulled over to the shoulder near the Washington Boulevard exit, and Willie Lee Jefferson, 22, and Paul Tatin, 30, got out of the car and began fighting, prosecutors said.

The men, who were the driver’s roommates, unwittingly took their fight onto the freeway as she tried to separate them, authorities said.

A pickup truck hit the three, knocking them to the ground, prosecutors said, and a second vehicle then ran over Brando, dragging her about 50 feet.

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The driver of neither vehicle stopped, but California Highway Patrol officers found a license plate at the scene, and they traced it to Vanegas. He was taken into custody for a Breathalyzer test, then released. That test indicated that his blood alcohol level was .15, nearly twice the state’s legal limit of .08 for driving.

Vanegas, who is being held on $5,000 bail, is scheduled to be arraigned in Los Angeles Superior Court Aug. 26.


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