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DUI, murder suspect pleads not guilty

Twenty-year-old Marco Valencia faces life in prison if convicted of killing bicyclist on canyon road

Posted: July 29, 2009 10:15 p.m.
Updated: July 30, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
SAN FERNANDO - A 20-year-old Canyon Contry man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges he drunkenly plowed his pickup truck into a group of bicyclists in a canyon north of Saugus, killing one and injuring at least three others.

Marco Valencia wore a beard and a green county jail jumpsuit to his arraignment in San Fernando Superior Court, remaining relatively quiet after loudly answering "present" when the judge called his name.

Valencia was on probation with a suspended driver's license at the time of the crash, having two prior DUI convictions. He faces life in prison if convicted.

Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies arrested him July 11, after he fled the scene of a crash that killed 43-year-old Stevenson Ranch resident Joe Novotny and injured at least three other bicyclists riding on a winding stretch of Bouquet Canyon Road.

Novotny, a Minnesota native, was an avid and experienced bicyclist who recently moved to Stevenson Ranch to become the general manager of a Valencia-based liquid-filter company.

Witnesses and investigators told The Signal earlier this month that Valencia had been driving erratically through Saugus miles before the fatal crash - he drifted across lanes, drove up onto curbs and ran into a chain-link fence.

Valencia was most recently convicted of driving under the influence last year after he ran into a power pole in Canyon Country, knocking out power to nearby residents for hours.

The then-teenager received his first DUI conviction in 2007.

In the current case, he faces 12 felony counts, including one of murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, felony hit-and-run and several other charges.

Judge Martin Gladstein set Valencia's next court date for Aug. 18 in San Fernando Superior Court.

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