Los Banos man pleaded not guilty in fatal hit-and-run

May 7, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The man accused of killing an army reserve soldier in a hit-and-run crash pleaded not guilty Tuesday.

Los Banos police arrested Jesse Fuentes for a second time Monday night because he was released during the investigation.

The arraignment in Los Banos lasted only a few minutes, but family members of the young reservist say it was a welcome step toward justice.

Jesse Fuentes appeared in a Los Banos courtroom without his attorney, who was stuck in Fresno. The 23 year old asked to be released on house arrest because of a health problem, but the judge denied that request.

Police say Fuentes crashed his truck into Fernando Buenrostro Junior on March 16th and then left the scene. The 18 year old was riding a motorized scooter in an intersection -- where a memorial remains in his honor.

The victim's father, Fernando Buenrostro Sr. said, "He was everything about family, his friends, that's what his motivation was, and he had just started his career."

Buenrostro joined the Army National Guard shortly after graduating from Los Banos High School last year. He dreamed of serving his country as a full time soldier. The teen's family was devastated to learn he was left dying on the street.

Buenrostro Sr. added, "They were saying there are two lives here that are hurt, or two families, but they can see their kid, but I can't see mine."

Officers arrested Fuentes four days after the crash and say he provided details about the happened. He was released on bail, but arrested again Monday night after the district attorney's office filed charges against him.

Deputy District Attorney Travis Colby said, "We filed the hit-and-run charges involving death. That is a greater charge than he was originally arrested on, and the court felt it appropriate to set bail at $250,000."

The judge entered a not guilty plea to that charge and a misdemeanor count of driving on a suspended license on Fuentes' behalf, before sending him back to jail. He faces a maximum sentence of four years if convicted.

Fuentes will be back in court on Friday for a bail review hearing.


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