RIVERSIDE – A jury was seated today for the trial of a 23-year-old motorist accused of chasing and running over a bicyclist with his pickup truck after the victim cut him off.
Anthony Ray Lopez could face 25 years to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder with great bodily injury allegations in the Jan. 15 death of 68-year-old Armando Herman Villalobos.
After a day and a half of screening prospective jurors, Riverside County Superior Court Judge W. Charles Morgan impaneled 14 people — including two alternates — to hear evidence in the case. Opening statements are scheduled tomorrow.
Prosecutors allege Lopez, who is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside, crushed Villalobos with his Ford F-150 pickup in a rage over being cut off.
A trial brief filed by Deputy District Attorney Edward Hong says Lopez and a friend, Christopher Isenhower, had been drinking at a Corona bar that day and left around 4:30 p.m. after watching a football game.
The men headed east on Magnolia Avenue, and as they approached Windsong Street, Villalobos crossed in front of Lopez’s pickup, forcing him to stop abruptly, according to Hong.
He said Villalobos was on his way back to his Home Gardens residence after a trip to the grocery store, with his grocery bags hanging off his handlebars.
Isenhower, 24, later told sheriff’s investigators that the victim and defendant exchanged ”looks,” according to the brief.
Angered, Lopez pursued the bicyclist, yelling and cursing him while following close behind at low speed, trying to elicit a response from Villalobos, who ignored the rant and continued toward his house less than two blocks away, court papers allege.
”As the victim was passing the residence on 3760 Windsong St., the defendant finally drove his truck into the victim’s bicycle, ‘bumping’ the victim’s rear tire with the front bumper of the F-150,” the brief alleges.”Witnesses … stated that the front part of the victim’s bicycle ‘jumped’ but the victim was able to stay on the bicycle, which was now positioned directly in front of the defendant’s F-150. After a momentary pause, the defendant then accelerated the F-150 again, driving the truck directly over the victim.”
Villalobos and his bicycle were dragged 30 feet underneath the pickup as Lopez fled, prosecutors allege.
The victim died shortly after arrival at Kaiser Hospital in Riverside.
Lopez dropped Isenhower at home and told him to keep quiet, but after consulting his wife, the witness called sheriff’s investigators and detailed everything, the brief alleges.