LANCASTER – A 29-year-old man accused of crashing his car on the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway while drunk last month, resulting in the death of his passenger, has pleaded not guilty to murder charges.
Elder Higueros entered the not guilty plea Wednesday in an Antelope Valley courtroom, where he was arraigned on charges of murder and vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.
The charges stem from a Feb. 16 crash that claimed the life of 29-year-old Joseph Ralph Contreraz.
Higueros was speeding northbound on the 14 Freeway, just south of Avenue N, when his 2007 Toyota drifted off the left side of the roadway onto the dirt median, causing Higueros to lose control, according to a California Highway Patrol report.
The vehicle traveled back across the roadway, plowed through a guardrail, and then traveled up a dirt embankment before flipping onto its side, the CHP report states.
Contreraz, a passenger in the vehicle, was thrown onto the roadway and pronounced dead at the scene.
Higueros was arrested shortly after the collision and has been jailed on $1 million bail since the crash. After entering a not guilty plea Wednesday, Higueros was ordered back to custody with bail to remain at $1 million. He is due back in court on Thursday, April 11, for a preliminary hearing.