Suspect pleads not guilty to injuring officer
A trial is set April 22 for Robert Michael Hernandez of Carson City, who pleaded not guilty Monday to injuring a Washoe Tribal police officer a year ago after a high-speed chase that ended in Indian Hills.
Hernandez, 21, was indicted Feb. 21 by the Douglas County grand jury. He pleaded not guilty to eluding a peace officer causing bodily harm.
He was accused of leading two Washoe Tribal police officers on a high-speed chase March 12, 2007, that ended when he reportedly rammed a cruiser, injuring former tribal officer Joshua Rothschild.
Hernandez is the stepson of Carson City Mayor Marv Teixeira, who attended Monday’s brief proceeding along with other family members before Douglas District Judge Michael Gibbons.
Lawyer Jason Woodbury, who was hired to represent Hernandez, asked for a continuance because he just received the grand jury transcript and hadn’t had an opportunity to review the information.
Rather than delay proceedings, Gibbons accepted Hernandez’s not guilty plea and set the matter for trial. He invited Woodbury to put the case back on the judicial calendar if he reaches a plea agreement with the district attorney’s office.
Rothschild and tribal officer Daniel Collier were on patrol March 12, 2007, in Carson City when they observed a sports utility vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed.
Collier told the grand jury last month the vehicle accelerated from 45 mph to 80 mph as it crossed into Douglas County, and they pursued it into Indian Hills.
He and Rothschild identified Hernandez as the driver who rammed the SUV into their Washoe tribal cruiser that was stopped on Agate Court.
Rothschild was behind the wheel and suffered crushed vertebrae. He said he was terminated Dec. 5, 2007, after two surgeries and told he may return to work after he recovers. Rothschild said he expected permanent damage to his range of motion from the accident.
Hernandez fled the scene and was arrested April 29 in Palm Springs, Calif., on separate charges.
He was returned to Douglas County Jail in January after serving a sentence at California State Prison.
Passenger Fidel Fuentes, 25, was accused of tossing a stolen handgun from the car before he and Hernandez fled the scene.
Fuentes was arrested later that day when deputies found him in a backyard in the neighborhood where the altercation took place.
The weapon, reported missing by a Carson City resident, was found in a nearby cul-de-sac.
Fuentes was sentenced in October to a year in Douglas County Jail. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess stolen property, a gross misdemeanor.