SANTA ROSA (BCN)
A west Sonoma County man was told this afternoon he must answer for his role in a crash last year that killed a prominent University of California at Berkeley attorney.
Jonathan Robert Murray Ritter, 29, of Rio Nido, is charged with felony hit-and-run and vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. He allegedly struck UC Berkeley’s chief campus counsel Christopher Patti, 59, with his BMW on River Road west of Guerneville on Aug. 27.
Patti had stopped his bicycle on the right shoulder of the road when he was struck by a BMW around 9:45 a.m. Ritter allegedly continued driving west on River Road then turned around and drove east toward Guerneville, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The Russian River Fire Protection District responded to the crash and pronounced Patti dead at the scene.
CHP officials said a license plate found at the scene identified Ritter as a person of interest.
Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Dana Simonds held Ritter to answer to the charges after a two-day preliminary hearing. Simonds said there is ample evidence to hold Ritter over for a trial.
The judge said evidence and testimony at the hearing showed Ritter borrowed the BMW from its owner to go visit his girlfriend and the collision happened 10 minutes later.
Video evidence and statements Ritter made to his girlfriend and others identify him as the driver, Simonds said.
Ritter’s attorney Charles Applegate argued someone else was driving the BMW.
Deputy District Attorney Jessica Washington said there is ample circumstantial evidence Ritter was the driver, and statements he made after the crash showed Ritter’s consciousness of guilt.
Ritter is scheduled to re-enter pleas to the charges July 9.
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