In a shocking trial, the prosecution and defense have both rested in the case of a motorist accused of intentionally killing a man by running him over on a Riverside street.
Sergio Reynaldo Gutierrez, a 33-year-old resident of Riverside, is facing charges of murder and using his pickup truck as a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony. The victim, Benedicto Solanga, also a resident of Riverside, tragically lost his life in July 2021.
On Tuesday, the prosecution presented its final witness before resting their case. Surprisingly, the defense did not call any witnesses. Now, it’s up to Riverside County Superior Court Judge Timothy Hollenhorst to schedule closing arguments for Wednesday afternoon at the Riverside Hall of Justice.
Gutierrez is currently being held at the nearby Robert Presley Jail on a hefty $1 million bail.
According to the trial brief submitted by the prosecution, the incident occurred on Market Street near the Pomona (60) Freeway underpass. Gutierrez was driving his Ford F-250 when he crossed paths with Solanga and an unidentified friend, who were walking in the opposite direction.
According to the prosecution’s account, Gutierrez honked his horn and made an obscene gesture towards Solanga. Shortly after, the pickup truck made a sudden U-turn and began heading in the same direction as Solanga. Without warning, the truck veered to the right and struck Solanga from behind, launching him into the air before he landed face down.
The prosecution alleges that Gutierrez fled the scene in his pickup truck, briefly pursued by witnesses. However, he managed to escape by running a red light.
The motive behind Gutierrez’s alleged hostility towards Solanga remains unknown.
Solanga was rushed to the hospital but sadly succumbed to his injuries three days later, according to Riverside police Officer Ryan Railsback.
During the following three weeks, detectives worked tirelessly to identify the driver of the pickup truck and eventually linked it to Gutierrez. One crucial witness, a member of the Riverside Auto-Theft Interdiction Detail Task Force, encountered Gutierrez with the Ford F-250 earlier on the day of the attack, where he was trying to get the vehicle running in the Santa Ana River bottom.
Court documents reveal that this witness noticed graffiti on the pickup truck, bearing the ominous message, “Don’t (expletive) With This Truck.”
Gutierrez was eventually apprehended without incident on August 17, 2021, on Sir Bedivere Drive.
Notably, he has no prior felony convictions in Riverside County.
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