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Alleged Street Racers Plead Not Guilty In Santa Ana Crash That Killed Longtime OC Register Editor

SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — Two alleged street racers pleaded not guilty Monday for their part in a fiery July 30 crash that killed veteran newspaper editor Eugene Harbrecht near his Santa Ana home.

Eugene Harbrecht
Longtime Orange County Register editor Eugene Harbrecht, 67, was killed in a Thursday morning crash. (Credit: Orange County Register)

Villa, 29, of Santa Ana, was previously charged with second-degree murder, driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury and driving with a blood-alcohol content exceeded the legal limit of .08% causing bodily injury — all felonies. He is also facing misdemeanor charges of engaging in a speed contest and driving on a suspended or revoked license due to a prior DUI.

Villa, who is being held on $1 million bail, has multiple DUI-related convictions for driving on a suspended or revoked license, and had been advised that he could be charged with murder instead of manslaughter if he was involved in a deadly DUI crash, prosecutors said.

If convicted as charged, Villa could face at least 15 years to life in prison.

The other man allegedly involved, 24-year-old Ricardo Navarro Tolento, also of Santa Ana, is facing felony charges of gross vehicular manslaughter and hit-and-run with permanent and serious injury and the misdemeanor charge of engaging in a speed contest. He also faces a sentencing enhancement of fleeing the scene of a vehicular manslaughter.

Tolento posted $100,000 bail on Aug. 5 and was released from custody.

A pretrial hearing for both men is scheduled for Oct. 2, and a preliminary hearing is set for Oct. 26.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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