Courts & Law

35-years-to-life for Riverside man

A RIVERSIDE man was sentenced last Friday to 35-years-to-life for second degree murder in the wake of a freeway chase that started in Westminster and ended in the death of his passenger.

A 44-year-old Riverside resident was sentenced on Friday to 35 years to life in state prison for a chase in 2014 that began in Westminster and ended in the death of the defendant’s friend.

According to the Orange County District Attorney’s office, Javier Homero Montoya was found guilty on April 25, 2018 on a charge of second-degree murder and two counts of assault on a peace officer. His sentence was enhanced because of a prior felony conviction for committing a residential burglary in Riverside County in 2000.

The incident began around 7:15 a.m. on Dec. 1, 2014. Montoya left a 24-Hour Fitness parking lot in Westminster Center (Goldenwest Street and Westminster Boulevard) driving a Ford F-150 pickup. He failed to stop for two Westminster police officers, driving recklessly and leading WPD officers on a high-speed chase onto the northbound San Diego (Interstate 405) Freeway, according to authorities.

During the pursuit, Montoya braked abruptly, causing a pursuing WPD vehicle to crash into the back of the pickup truck. He then hit the side of another police vehicle before motoring away.

At 11:30 p.m. Montoya drove from an apartment complex in Westminster with his friend, 43-year-old Alberto Marquez, in the passenger seat. The pickup was driven near Westminster Center and was spotted by WPD officers who attempted a traffic stop. The truck sped away, starting a second pursuit.

The ensuing chase proceeded northbound on the San Diego Freeway at speeds of about 90 miles an hour. The truck’s headlights were off during the pursuit. The driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed into trees and light poles off the side of the road near the Interstate 710 interchange.

Montoya and Marquez were trapped in the vehicle, which caught fire. They were removed from the truck, but Marquez was pronounced dead at the scene. Montoya was taken to Long Beach Memorial Hospital and treated for minor injuries, then arrested by Westminster police.

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