RIVERSIDE – A Riverside man accused of repeatedly stabbing a California Highway Patrol officer who prevented him from hurling himself off a freeway overpass must stand trial on attempted murder and other felony charges, a judge ruled today.
Javier Hernandez Rios, 47, could face life in prison if convicted of attacking Officer Dane Norem and several other people, including two off-duty law enforcement officers.
Following a four-hour preliminary hearing at the Riverside Hall of Justice, Superior Court Judge Larrie Brainard found there was sufficient evidence to bound Rios over for trial on the attempted murder and other counts.
He’s additionally facing one count each of assault on a peace officer and mayhem, six counts of assault resulting in great bodily injury, and two counts of false imprisonment and spousal abuse — the latter tied to separate incidents involving his wife.
On the night of Oct. 25, 2012, following a fight with his wife, the defendant walked to the La Sierra Avenue overpass at the Riverside (91) Freeway and climbed the fence, appearing ready to leap into fast-moving traffic below, according to Deputy District Attorney Michael Lough.
”Officer Norem pulls up and runs over to the defendant, believing he’s going to jump,” the prosecutor said. ”Officer Norem grabbed his legs to prevent him from committing suicide and potentially harming freeway drivers.”
Rios pulled out a utility knife with a four-inch blade and began slashing and stabbing Norem, who would not leg go of the defendant’s legs, Lough alleged.
”Officer Norem was stabbed seven times,” he said. ”The first wound was to the eye, then his biceps, back and forearms.”
An off-duty Riverside police officer witnessed the assault and stopped his vehicle to help, as did an off-duty San Bernardino County sheriff’s sergeant.
According to testimony, the policeman helped Norem hold the defendant, while the sergeant used the highway patrolman’s baton in an attempt to disarm Rios, who tried to stab both good Samaritans. Another motorist stopped his car on the overpass and ran over to help, but the defendant would not surrender.
According to Riverside police, a second CHP officer arrived about two minutes later and used a pepper spray pistol to subdue Rios.
Norem was taken to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where he underwent surgery on his eye and got stitches to close his other wounds.
According to Lough, the highway patrolman suffered major vision loss, but recovered some acuity in the ensuing months. He now has 20/200 vision in the injured eye and is awaiting a cornea or retina transplant, Lough said, adding that he has returned to light duty with the CHP.
Last October, Norem was awarded the state’s Medal of Valor for his actions that night.
None of the three individuals who came to Norem’s aid were injured. All are listed as victims in the criminal complaint, in addition to the defendant’s wife, identified only as Jane Doe.
Prosecutors allege Rios assaulted her three times in the days leading up to the overpass confrontation. On one occasion, he allegedly locked her in a closet, held a screwdriver to her throat and pulled out some of her hair.
Rios is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside.