Covina man pleads not guilty to murder charges after fatal crash in La Verne

POMONA — A Covina man entered a not guilty plea Wednesday to two counts of murder and other charges stemming from a crash in La Verne that killed his two passengers.
Alan McConnell, 27, of Covina pleaded not guilty in Pomona Superior Court to two counts of murder, as well as misdemeanor counts of hit-and-run, drunken driving, driving with a blood-alcohol level above .08, driving on a suspended license and an infraction count of driving without auto insurance, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Meji Vellakkatel said.
McConnell is accused of killing two women who were passengers in his 2000 Pontiac Grand Am: 22-year-old Telassie Dague and 20-year-old Renee Hardy, both of Alta Loma.
He is accused of having nearly twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system at the time.
“The complaint alleges that it was at least .15 or above,” Vellakkatel said. The legal limit is .08.
He is due back in court for a hearing on March 15, court officials said.
At the March hearing, officials will set a date for a preliminary hearing, provided attorneys on both sides are ready.
This is the third time McConnell has been accused of driving under the influence.
McConnell was already awaiting proceedings regarding another driving under the influence case that was filed against him in Los Angeles Superior Court for an alleged crime in Nov. of 2009, Vellakkatel said.
He was convicted in Orange County in October of 2009 for a misdemeanor driving under the influence offense that occurred in September of 2009, according to court documents.
The crash occurred Jan. 23 on Foothill Boulevard in La Verne.
He allegedly became involved in a minor crash with another car on Foothill Boulevard at Damien Avenue and was fleeing that collision when he crashed into a center median and a tree at Foothill Boulevard and Wheeler Avenue, La Verne police Lt. Nick Paz said.
Dague and Hardy both died of injuries suffered in the crash, officials said.
McConnell was not injured in the crash, police said.
If convicted on the murder charges, McConnell faces 30 years to life in prison.

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Freeway death a possible suicide

This from the LADN:

SHERMAN OAKS – A man whose body was found with a gunshot wound to the head Sunday in a car on the Ventura Freeway was despondent over the suicide of his girlfriend and might have killed himself, police said this morning.

Marlon Gordillo Sical, 20, had been arguing with his girlfriend, Virginia Castillo, 19, when he disappeared and she hanged herself, police said.

“He was apparently despondent,” said Los Angeles Police Capt. James Miller, adding that police still are calling the case an undetermined death until the results of an autopsy tomorrow.

Miller would not say whether police found a gun at the scene of the accident Sunday but said no suicide note was found.

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From newsman to cop

This letter comes from Brent Hopkins, who left the Los Angeles Daily News (with several other editorial employees last week).

Brent will be moving on to a career in law enforcement. Here’s (most of) his letter to friends and colleagues:

Hi folks,

As many of you have heard, we’ve had a hard round of layoffs at the
Daily News today. I took a voluntary buyout and will be moving on,
leaving fond memories and many good friends, both at the paper and in
the community. It’s been a pleasure getting to know many of you and
working with you over the years and I hope you’ll keep in touch.

If you need to get ahold of the Daily News, try my editor, Aron
Miller, (snip) or the (snip) general city desk at 818-713-3707.


I’ll be leaving the industry for an entirely new career with the LAPD.
While I’ll miss my colleagues and my work here, I’m excited to be
starting something new with an equally dedicated bunch of people.

Thanks a bunch and stay in touch,

Brent Hopkins
(former) reporter, LA Daily News

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