A Huntington Beach man on Monday pleaded not guilty to a murder charge stemming from a hit-and-run crash in Fountain Valley that left a bicyclist dead.
Justin Scott German, 26, also denied a sentencing enhancement based on allegations he fled the scene after committing vehicular manslaughter, according to Orange County Superior Court records.
Police allege in reports and an affidavit that German was driving a red Ford Mustang north on Brookhurst Street, just south of Ellis Avenue, at about 12:50 a.m. Sept. 13, 2017, when he struck a bicyclist and drove away.
When officers arrived a few minutes later, the body of Binh Ngo, 41, of Fountain Valley was found between two parked cars. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Authorities found broken Mustang parts in the roadway and, based on that evidence, issued a news release in an effort to find a suspect with a matching vehicle.
Fountain Valley police Sgt. Michael Parsons wrote in a report that German’s family noticed significant damage to his car and sought advice from a neighbor — a retired Huntington Beach police officer — about contacting police after seeing a story about the crash on the news.
The neighbor called authorities that morning, Parsons wrote.
German told officers that he had two shots and two beers at a bar, Out of Bounds in Huntington Beach, before driving home at about 12:30 a.m. Sept. 13, Parsons wrote.
While driving home, German told officers he felt intoxicated and remembered “feeling an impact,” possibly from sideswiping the tires of a tractor-trailer, authorities wrote.
“He became scared and drove home,” Parsons wrote.
German cried when Fountain Valley police Officer Adam Laguisan told him during an interview that the bicyclist had died.
German “seemed to be remorseful but he continued to deny knowledge of the accident,” Laguisan wrote.
German told police he must have panicked after the crash, Laguisan wrote.
“I guess the only way in my mind, I guess, was just to go home, go to sleep and wake up thinking it was a bad dream or something,” German said, according to the police report. “It’s not a bad dream. It’s a living … nightmare. I think in my mind when I slept, I must have emulated the accident. So in the dream it was a tractor-trailer. But it wasn’t. It was a person.”
German was first arrested Sept. 14 on suspicion of felony hit-and-run, but was released and had remained free until Thursday. He is being held in Orange County Jail in Santa Ana in lieu of $1 million bail, according to jail records.
German is expected to appear in court for a pretrial hearing this week.
He has a prior DUI conviction. German pleaded guilty Feb. 17, 2017, to driving under the influence of alcohol in a separate incident and was still serving three years’ probation when the Fountain Valley crash occurred, according to court records.