RIVERSIDE – A man who ran over and killed a bicyclist for cutting him off in traffic was sentenced today to 25 years to life in prison.
Anthony Ray Lopez of Corona was convicted Aug. 30 of first-degree murder in the Jan. 25, 2012, death of 68-year-old Armando Herman Villalobos.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge W. Charles Morgan imposed the sentence required by law for the crime.
According to the prosecution, the 23-year-old defendant mowed down Villalobos just a block away from the victim’s Home Gardens residence.
A witness to the attack, Juan Magana, testified that he saw the defendant and his friend in a Ford F-150 pickup truck idling behind Villalobos on Windsong Street, just off Magnolia Avenue.
”I heard the passenger say, ‘Let’s go for him,”’ Magana said. ”Then … they hit him.”
Magana testified that Villalobos ”went flying” and that the driver tried to speed away, but the victim and his bicycle became entangled beneath the vehicle, forcing Lopez to back up to dislodge the wreckage.
Deputy District Attorney Edward Hong said Lopez and his passenger, 24- year-old 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 home after a trip to the grocery store.
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, according to testimony.
Hong said the defendant eventually bumped the victim’s rear tire.
”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,” Hong wrote in a trial brief. ”After a momentary pause, the defendant then accelerated the F-150 again, driving the truck directly over the victim.”
Villalobos died a short time later at Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Riverside.
Isenhower reported the hit-and-run to sheriff’s investigators that same night, shortly after leaving Villalobos’ company.