MURRIETA – An ex-con who allegedly rammed a Riverside police unit while trying to avoid arrest must stand trial for assault on a peace officer and other felonies, a judge ruled today.
James Chad Horton, 34, could face 25 years to life in prison if convicted in a March 23, 2012, attack during which he was shot by officers.
Following a preliminary hearing at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Angel Bermudez found there was sufficient evidence to bound Horton for trial on the assault charge, as well as reckless evading, being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and carrying a concealed weapon.
The defendant has three felony strikes on his record. According to court papers, in the last decade, he’s been convicted separately of making criminal threats, auto theft and recklessly discharging a firearm.
Bermudez set a post-preliminary hearing arraignment in the case for April 12 and left Horton’s bail set at $210,000. The defendant is being held at the Southwest Detention Center.
According to Riverside police, officers attempted to stop Horton for a traffic violation in the predawn hours of March 23, 2012, but the defendant sped away in a 2004 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck. In the ensuing five-minute chase, Horton allegedly drove in excess of 80 mph on city streets, making U- turns and occasionally driving on the wrong side of the road, until he got boxed in on Donald Street, police said.
The defendant allegedly rammed a patrol car several times while trying to escape, prompting four police officers to open fire on the Tacoma, investigators said. Horton’s passenger, John Eddie Walton, jumped out of the pickup and was immediately arrested.
According to police, the truck became disabled after Horton struck a power pole, and the defendant fled on foot.
A 90-minute search ensued, during which a police K-9 officer located Horton in the backyard of a home in the 3700 block of Everest Avenue. He surrendered after a police dog bit him.
The defendant was treated for a non-life-threatening gunshot wound and booked into jail.
Last August, Walton pleaded guilty to being a convicted felon with a gun and committing a felony while on bail and was sentenced to four years, eight months in prison.