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Man faces felony charges in theft of hearse with body inside

Stolen Hearse
A hearse with a body inside that was stolen from a Pasadena church parking lot later crashed on the 110 Freeway during a police pursuit.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

A man who police say stole a hearse with a body inside and led police on a wild chase that ended with a crash on the 110 Freeway has been charged with multiple felonies in the incident, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said.

James Juarez, 25, faces charges including fleeing a peace officer while driving recklessly and taking a vehicle without consent, the D.A.'s office said in a statement Monday.

Juarez was arrested Thursday after the crash, which closed a long stretch of the southbound 110 Freeway near Vernon Street during the morning commute. Authorities recovered the body inside a coffin in the back of the customized black Lincoln Navigator.

The vehicle was stolen the night before from a parking lot at St. Anthony Greek Orthodox Church in East Pasadena, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Maria Lucero said.

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The driver was delivering one body to the church and left another inside the vehicle with the engine running, , Lucero said.

Juarez, described by prosecutors as being homeless, faces a possible maximum sentence of more than three years in state prison if convicted, prosecutors said. It was not immediately clear Tuesday whether Juarez has a lawyer.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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