Trial date set for man accused of stabbing Highway Patrolman

RIVERSIDE – An Oct. 15 trial date was confirmed today for a Riverside man accused of stabbing a California Highway Patrol officer who stopped him from hurling himself off a freeway overpass in 2012.

Javier Hernandez Rios, 47, could face life in prison if convicted of assaulting Officer Dane Norem and several other people, including two off-duty law enforcement officers.

During a status hearing at the Riverside Hall of Justice, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Becky Dugan scheduled trial proceedings to begin in mid-October after the prosecution and defense indicated that time period worked for them.

However, Dugan scheduled an intervening hearing for Sept. 5, during which she will verify both sides are on track.

Rios is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside.

He’s charged with attempted murder, assault on a peace officer, mayhem, six counts of assault resulting in great bodily injury, two counts of false imprisonment and spousal abuse — the latter tied to separate incidents involving his wife.

According to investigators, on the night of Oct. 25, 2012, after allegedly beating 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.

”Officer Norem pulls up and runs over to the defendant, believing he’s going to jump,” Deputy District Attorney Michael Lough told City News Service in March. ”Officer Norem grabbed his legs to prevent him from committing suicide and potentially harming freeway drivers.”

Rios allegedly 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.

”Officer Norem was stabbed seven times,” Lough 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 witnesses, the police officer 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 had his other wounds sutured.

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, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

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