WOODLAND — The attorney for a man accused of fleeing the scene of a fatal collision near Woodland last summer says he has proof that his client wasn’t trying to hide crucial evidence in the case.
Hours after he allegedly struck 17-year-old Claudia Marie Gonzalez on northbound Interstate 5, Camron Matthew Ervin got a public-nuisance ticket on his damaged 1998 Buick Park Avenue, “telling him that he was going to have his car towed and face hundreds of dollars in fines if he did not remove or repair the car,” defense lawyer Richard Chan said.
Chan showed copies of the ticket to reporters following Ervin’s arraignment Thursday in Yolo Superior Court, where the 27-year-old Sacramento resident pleaded not guilty to charges of felony hit-and-run and driving on a suspended license in connection with the July 5 collision.
With no funds to fix his car, Ervin turned it over to a Sacramento auto dismantling yard, where California Highway Patrol investigators seized it after receiving an anonymous tip.
“The reality is he had a legitimate reason for getting rid of the car,” Chan said. He said it was unclear whether the vehicle had been damaged prior to the fatal collision.
Witnesses reported that Gonzalez had run into the traffic lanes near the County Road 103 overpass after becoming upset during a ride home from a party in West Sacramento, prompting the driver of the car to pull over to the side of the road. The teen died at the scene from her injuries.
According to the CHP, Ervin told investigators had no idea what he hit as he drove to work at a Woodland warehouse that July morning.
“His assertion is he didn’t know he hit a human being, (and) it’s clear from the charging document the prosecuting agencies agree that he did not cause (Gonzalez’s) death,” Chan said.
Ervin, who was arrested on a warrant in the case early Thursday morning despite already being scheduled to surrender in court that afternoon, posted a $75,000 bail bond and remains free pending his next court date — Nov. 7 for a pre-hearing conference. A preliminary hearing is set for Nov. 21.
Court records indicate Ervin’s license suspension stems from a May drunken-driving conviction.
— Reach Lauren Keene at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene