A self-described drug counselor accused of killing a bicyclist while driving under the influence in Newport Beach has pleaded not guilty to murder.
Police said Neil Storm Stephany, 23, of Huntington Beach kept driving after slamming his truck into Shaun Eagleson, a 30-year-old Fountain Valley resident who was riding along East Coast Highway on Oct. 19.
Eagleson died at a nearby hospital that day, and police arrested Stephany about four miles from the crash site.
Prosecutors said they decided to charge Stephany with murder because he had pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drunk-driving charge in 2011. In California, people who repeatedly drive drunk can be charged with murder if they kill someone after their first DUI conviction.
In a jailhouse courtroom last week, Stephany also pleaded not guilty to felony hit-and-run and felony possession of a controlled substance.
Stephany’s lawyer did not return a call about the case.
According to court records, Stephany has a history of drug offenses. In 2010, he pleaded guilty to felony possession of heroin with intent to sell, and in 2013 he pleaded guilty to felony assault and possession of a controlled substance.
Eagleson’s widow, Sandra, told the Daily Pilot in October that the crash took everything from her, and that murder would be an appropriate conviction.
“He can’t do this to somebody else. I don’t wish this on anyone,” she said then. “I don’t want my husband’s death to be in vain.”
Stephany remains in jail, with bail set at $1 million.