Pomona teen to pay $1.5 million restitution in Chino hit-and-run killing

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CHINO — A Pomona teen convicted of leaving the scene of an accident after striking and killing a Chino man with his car agreed today to pay $1.5 million restitution to the victim’s family.

The $1.5 million figure primarily reflects future wages lost because of the April 14 death of Richard Bohannan, 42, said Deputy District Attorney Steve Mitchell.

Alfredo Antonio Ramirez, the driver, was sentenced to two years in state prison last month after pleading no contest to three charges as part of a plea bargain reached with Judge Gerard S. Brown.

Ramirez was allegedly sending a text message when he struck and killed Bohannan at about 8:30 p.m. in the 11000 block of Pipeline Avenue, in an unincorporated area near Chino.

Bohannan was walking from his home to his mailbox beside the street when he was struck by Ramirez’s car.

According to witnesses, Ramirez continued driving after the collision for several blocks, then pulled over and exited the car to assess the damage the crash caused his vehicle. He then returned to his car and left the scene.

Ramirez turned himself into police two days later after he learned he was a suspect in Bohannan’s killing.

Mitchell said he was unsure what process Bohannan’s family must go through to recover the $1.5 million restitution from Ramirez, a figure that was finalized today in Chino Superior Court.

The prosecutor said the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is responsible for ensuring restitution payments are made.

“If (Ramirez) has the assets in the future, they can collect on it,” Mitchell said. “If he doesn’t, they can’t.”

Bohannan’s family members and Ramirez’s defense attorney could not be reached for comment today.

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Jurors begin deliberations in Lozada murder trial

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Pictured (L-R): Jessica de la Torre and Victor Aaron Alburto Lozada.

RIVERSIDE — Jurors began deliberating this afternoon in the murder trial of an Upland man accused of participating in the 2003 robbery and killing of 18-year-old Jessica de la Torre of Ontario.

Victor Lozada testified Thursday that he gave multiple car rides to two friends on Aug. 15, 2003, unknowingly assisting in the robbery and killing of De la Torre. Prosecutors say Lozada was a vital part of the plot.

Prosecution and defense attorneys delivered closing arguments to the jury today before jurors retired to deliberate. The jury is set to continue deliberations Monday.

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Lozada testifies, denies knowledge of plot to murder Ontario woman

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Pictured (L-R): Jessica de la Torre and Victor Aaron Alburto Lozada.

RIVERSIDE — Victor Lozada unexpectedly took the witness stand today to refute prosecutors’ accusations that he participated in a 2003 plot to rob and murder an 18-year-old Ontario woman.

According to Lozada’s testimony, he granted two friends a series of favors — mainly car rides — in the course of his friends’ murder plot, unknowingly involving himself on Aug. 15, 2003 in the brutal robbery, rape and slaying of Jessica de la Torre.

A prosecutor told jurors last week that Lozada, 35, was a key “team member” in De la Torre’s slaying, helping his friends plan and carry out the crime. Lozada is charged with murder.

The other two men blamed for De la Torre’s killing — Jesus Penuelas and Sergio Arias — have both been convicted of murder. Penuelas was sentenced to death, and Arias to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Today was the first time Lozada has testified in his defense, opting to remain silent during two previous murder trials — both of which ended in mistrials after juries deadlocked 11-1 in favor of guilty verdicts.

Lozada was set to testify Wednesday, but at the last moment opted not to because he feared cross-examination, said his defense attorney, Mike Schaaf.

Lozada testified today that the day before De la Torre’s killing, Penuelas asked him for a ride the following day to the corner of Mountain Avenue and Francis Street in Ontario.

“The only thing they said they were going to do was get a job,” Lozada testified in Riverside Superior Court.

Lozada said that when he dropped off the men near the intersection the following day, he had no knowledge of what would follow.

According to prosecutors, Penuelas and Arias walked from the drop-off point to De la Torre’s house, where she was home alone. They’re accused of plotting to rob her of $7,000 her father had saved.

After they arrived at De la Torre’s home, Penuelas and Arias tied up the woman, stole her ATM card and jabbed her with a knife until she told them her PIN number, according to prosecutors.

Arias then left the home to try to use the card — he was unsuccessful — and while he was gone Penuelas raped the woman, beat her unconscious and threw her in the trunk of her father’s car, according to prosecutors.

He then stole the car and drove it to the home in Upland that Lozada shared with Arias and one other man.

Lozada testified today that he had just returned home from his job at a Chino dairy, where he milked cows, when Penuelas arrived in the car and asked him for help unloading stereo equipment.

Lozada told jurors that he didn’t know the equipment or the car had been stolen. Penuelas told him not to ask questions, Lozada testified. He also denied hearing De la Torre make any sounds from the trunk, where she was bound.

“I never heard a thing,” said Lozada, a Mexico native who was assisted in court by a Spanish-language interpreter. “I never knew a thing.”

Penuelas then asked Lozada to follow him in his own car because he needed to drop off the car he arrived in, and he needed a ride home after that.

Lozada followed Penuelas to the Jurupa Mountains in Riverside County, and waited nearby as Penuelas drove out of his field of view, into an area covered by thick brush.

Lozada testified that he was unaware that after Penuelas drove into the brush, he removed De la Torre from the car and ran her over several times to kill her.

He also denied that he knew anything was amiss when he granted Penuelas and Arias’ request to give them a ride to two ATMs, where the men tried unsuccessfully to withdraw money from De la Torre’s bank account.

During his cross-examination, Deputy District Attorney Ambrosio Rodriguez questioned Lozada’s honesty on the witness stand, emphasizing statements Lozada made to police indicating that he knew the favors he was granting were aiding in De la Torre’s killing.

Lozada testified that he misspoke during the interview because he was tired and hungry, and had been subject to several hours of interrogations.

Following Lozada’s full day of testimony, Rodriguez told Judge Richard Hanscom this afternoon that he intends to call additional witnesses Friday morning to refute some of Lozada’s testimony.

Attorneys are scheduled to give closing arguments in the case after Rodriguez’s witnesses complete their testimony, which Rodriguez told the judge would take an hour.

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Closing arguments expected Thursday in murder trial for 2003 killing of Ontario woman, 18

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Pictured (L-R): Jessica de la Torre and Victor Aaron Alburto Lozada.

RIVERSIDE — The prosecution rested its case today in the murder trial of Victor Lozada, who is accused of assisting two other men in the 2003 robbery and killing of an 18-year-old Ontario woman.

Lozada, of Upland, was prepared to testify in his own defense today in Riverside Superior Court, but he decided at the last moment not to take the stand because he feared being cross-examined, said his defense attorney, Mike Schaaf.

Attorneys in the case are expected to deliver closing arguments Thursday, Schaaf said.

Prosecutors accuse of Lozada, 35, of dropping off two co-conspirators near Jessica de la Torre’s home, and later giving the men a ride to ATMs where they tried to use De la Torre’s stolen bank card.

Lozada is also accused of giving one of the alleged killer, Jesus Penuelas, a ride home after Penuelas ran over De la Torre with a car to kill her near the Jurupa Mountains.

Penuelas and Lozada’s other alleged co-conspirator have been convicted of murder.

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