Second-degree murder charge for man in DUI case

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A second-degree murder charge was filed Sept. 19 against the alleged drunk driver who crashed his vehicle into a guard rail, killing one of his passengers in Spring Valley.

Rene Ruiz, 27, pleaded not guilty Sept. 20 in the Sept. 17 death of Melanie Alexandra Feliciano, 24, after Ruiz’s Mercedes Benz rolled over on state Route 94 at Sweetwater Springs Boulevard.

El Cajon Superior Court Judge Robert Amador ordered Ruiz, of Spring Valley, to be held in jail without bail at the request of Deputy District Attorney Cally Bright.

A second-degree murder charge was filed Sept. 19 against the alleged drunk driver who crashed his vehicle into a guard rail, killing one of his passengers in Spring Valley.

Rene Ruiz, 27, pleaded not guilty Sept. 20 in the Sept. 17 death of Melanie Alexandra Feliciano, 24, after Ruiz’s Mercedes Benz rolled over on state Route 94 at Sweetwater Springs Boulevard.

El Cajon Superior Court Judge Robert Amador ordered Ruiz, of Spring Valley, to be held in jail without bail at the request of Deputy District Attorney Cally Bright.

“The court finds the defendant is a danger to public safety,” said Amador.

Bright said Ruiz drove “with so many drugs in his system,” which included cocaine, PCP, amphetamines and alcohol.

“He did run from the scene and did admit to being the driver,” said the prosecutor.

Bright said Ruiz and his girlfriend gave a ride to her friend, Feliciano, that day even though there was no back seat for her, as it was loaded with stuff. Feliciano sat between them without a seat or seat belt.

Ruiz is also charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, leaving the scene of a crash, possession of heroin and driving on a suspended license.

Ruiz and his girlfriend fled from the wreck and left Feliciano inside the crumpled car. They were found minutes later. His girlfriend was injured and taken to a hospital. She was not charged with anything.

Bright said Ruiz was charged with misdemeanor drunk driving in 2011 as well as felony assault when he was 18 years old.

“All DUIs are 100 percent preventable,” said Bright, who is in charge of the DA’s DUI homicide unit. “This is the age of Uber and Lyft.”

Ruiz’s attorney asked for “reasonable bail,” without specifying an amount. A preliminary hearing was set for Oct. 3.

West Fire looter convicted

A jury on Friday convicted a man on looting charges involving homes in Alpine during the West wildfire on July 6.

The six-man, six-woman jury deliberated for three and a half hours before convicting Ardian Iseni, 30, of residential burglary and attempted burglary of two homes.

Deputy District Attorney Shane Waller said Iseni is ineligible for probation and faces a prison term ranging from two years to seven years and five months.

El Cajon Superior Court Judge Jeff Fraser set sentencing for Oct. 26.

Iseni, who did not testify, remains in jail.

An Alpine resident, Jeffrey Shoaf, identified Iseni as the “out of place” man he saw peering into a home and trying to get inside.

The temperature that day was 110 degrees, but Iseni was wearing a long sleeve sweatshirt with a hoodie on a bicycle, carrying a woman’s bag. Shoaf said everyone else wore shorts and t-shirts.

“He stood out like a sore thumb,” said Shoaf.

A group of residents stopped Iseni and a deputy sheriff found jewelry and other items in the bag, which was recovered.

Carol Vincelett testified the bag belonged to her. Inside was jewelry, her husband’s dog tags, military ribbons, pliers and other miscellaneous items. She said the thief must have entered her home after she and her husband evacuated the area.

Mistrial in case of slaughtered roommate

A mistrial was declared on Sept. 4 after jurors deadlocked 9-3 for conviction against an El Cajon man accused of killing his roommate in 2015.

Michael Patrick O’Donnell, 59, will next appear in court Oct. 5 to see if there will a murder retrial over the Oct. 13, 2015, death of Richard Winslow Hobbs, 72.

Hobbs owned the home in the 1000 block of Pine Drive in El Cajon and suffered head injuries from a baseball bat. Hobbs had rented two rooms to O’Donnell and a female roommate.

Jurors deliberated two days before reporting to El Cajon Superior Court Judge Lantz Lewis they could not reach a verdict because they were deadlocked.

El Cajon Police officers responded to a 911 call at 8:35 p.m. and found Hobbs severely injured. He died in a hospital from blunt force trauma.

O’Donnell has pleaded not guilty and remains in jail on $2 million bail.Touch-A-Truck not only raises vocational awareness, but it raises money that funds education programs geared toward these career paths. It is fun with a purpose: teaching through experience and enjoyment.

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