An accused hit-and-run driver, chased down by Good Samaritans, headed to court Friday. Prosecutors said not only did the suspect attempt to take off, but he tried to pay off the men who cornered him, and eventually turned him over to police.
Adrian Morales Rodriguez, an internationally-known Cuban artist, was back in criminal court facing more felony charges.
"Another witness, let's keep reading, named Arturo Falconer, chased after the defendant," a prosecutor said during the hearing.
Rodriguez could now be facing 60 years in state prison for allegedly leaving the scene of a deadly crash and for tampering with a witness.
"He never intended to flee, he is not a danger," said Jeff Weiner, defense attorney.
But prosecutors said two witnesses saw Rodriguez run over Steve Lester on Southwest 112th Avenue and 218th Street on Christmas Eve. They said Rodriguez was driving a white Mercedes when he struck Lester. They saw him get out of his car but then get back in.
"He got back in his car to make a u-turn, somebody pulled in front of him and that's the whole case, he did not flee," Weiner said.
But the witnesses told police they had to chase Rodriguez down to force him to stop and stay until the police arrived.
"I cut him off and I asked him to turn the car off," Falconer said the night of the crash.
He said Rodriguez also offered him money to let him get away. Lester's family was upset but relieved.
"I just want to thank the Lord. Oh Lord, I thank him, I thank him," the victim's mother said.
The judge increased Rodriguez's bond to $150,000 with a GPS ankle monitor pending his trial. He also confiscated his passport.
Rodriguez is a Cuban national and lives in Spain.