MURRIETA (CNS) – A convicted drunken driver accused of killing a 43-year-old woman in a driving under the influence wreck in French Valley pleaded not guilty today to second-degree murder and other charges.
Joshua Asimovic Morris, 34, of Temecula was arrested in May following the crash that killed Amy Litteral of Winchester.
Along with murder, Morris is charged with DUI gross vehicular manslaughter, DUI resulting in injuries and a sentence-enhancing allegation of fleeing the scene of a collision.
Morris was arraigned before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Stephen Gallon, who scheduled a felony settlement conference for Aug. 5 at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta.
Morris is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Byrd Detention Center.
According to the California Highway Patrol, about 4 p.m. on May 22, Morris was driving south on Winchester Road in excess of the speed limit in his 2020 Kia Optima when he entered the left-turn lane for Thompson Road and allegedly did not slow when he came upon Litteral’s 2017 Ford Fusion directly in front of him, in the same lane.
Officer Mike Lassig alleged Morris impacted the rear of the Ford, pushing the sedan “into the intersection, where it collided into a 2016 Toyota Corolla, which was turning eastbound to northbound Winchester from Max Gillis Road.”
Morris allegedly tried to run away but was unable to, according to the CHP.
Paramedics reached the scene within a few minutes and found Litteral in grave condition. She was taken to Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar, where she died a half-hour later, according to Lassig.
The 39-year-old woman riding with Morris suffered minor injuries, for which she received treatment at Inland Valley Medical Center, Lassig said.    Morris was not injured, nor was the 23-year-old woman driving the Toyota, Lassig said.
Morris is on probation for a 2017 misdemeanor DUI conviction, according to court records. Under California law, a convicted DUI offender who is aware of the risks of drinking and driving and then causes someone’s death because of it can be charged with murder.