Stamford police: Deadly hit-and-run suspect took measures to evade arrest
A young woman accused in a deadly hit-and-run pedestrian crash, later abandoned her car and removed the license plates to try to escape arrest, according to Stamford police.
“There was an absolute intent to not get caught in this situation. One-hundred percent,” said Sgt. Jeffrey Booth.
Jahliyah Perez, 20, of Stamford, was arraigned Tuesday on charges of misconduct with a motor vehicle, felony evading responsibility, misuse of license plates and driving a motor vehicle without insurance. Perez turned herself in Monday night after police obtained an arrest warrant for her in connection to the death of a man who’d been walking downtown. On April 13 around 8 p.m., Ronald Molina was crossing Tresser Boulevard going toward the government center when a car slammed into him and never stopped. Police said he was thrown in the air, suffered life-threatening injuries and died a few days later at Stamford Hospital.
“He was a 52-year-old man from Stamford, owned a landscaping business, had three children,” Booth told News 12.
Police said Perez was behind the wheel of the car and fled the scene.
“There's no way she did not know she hit somebody,” Booth said.
Perez’s arrest warrant showed a traffic camera captured what happened: Perez had a green light as she traveled westbound on Tresser Boulevard, but Molina was in the crosswalk, which granted him the right of way.
“We know she did see him briefly. She did hit the breaks in what looks like maybe an attempt to stop, but she was definitely going too fast,” Booth explained.
The speed limit there is 30 mph, but investigators estimated Perez was going about 44 mph, according to her arrest warrant. Investigators concluded there was no attempt to swerve or avoid Molina, and wrote, “If she was going the speed limit the crash does not occur or is less severe.”
Though it was dark at the time of the incident, Booth told News 12 the intersection is very well lit. He said a witness got Perez's license plate, which police ran through the city's newly installed plate reader system. It determined the car they were looking for was a gray Acura. Officers later found it with damage to the windshield.
“On video she’s seen removing the license plates, then another car comes picks her up from the location,” said Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Nemec in court. “It’s a clear indication, Your Honor, this is not your simple evading where somebody bumps somebody in a parking lot, doesn't realize they hit them and drive away. There are clear obvious steps of attempting to evade capture.”
Nemec requested Judge John Blawie set bond at $200,000.
Public Defender Howard Ehring countered that Perez was young with no criminal convictions and did have the green light at the time. Ehring asked for a $25,000 bond, saying his client is not taking this lightly and surrendered to police.
But Judge John Blawie responded, “They call it hit-and-run for a reason,” adding the most serious allegations have to do with running. Blawie set bond at $200,000.
Perez has two other pending matters in Stamford Superior Court regarding assault and breach of peace charges. Both cases are sealed. She’s due back in court on all cases on Aug. 22.