Defendant pleads not guilty in Sherman Heights hit-and-run death
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – A motorist who allegedly drove off after killing a pedestrian in Sherman Heights early Sunday — stopping at a nearby fast-food restaurant before continuing to flee — was charged Friday with a felony count of hit-and-run causing death.
Christopher Nunez, 28, is accused in the Sunday morning death of 41- year-old Jason Gordon, who was struck just before 2 a.m. in the 1800 block of Market Street. He faces four years in state prison if convicted of the single felony count.
Gordon, an operations manager for Tiffany’s and married father of two young twin girls, was heading home from a friend’s party when he was killed, News 8 reported.
Police said a 2008 GMC Envoy struck Gordon as he was crossing the street and dragged him more than 100 feet down the roadway, according to Sgt. Victoria Houseman. He died at the scene.
Deputy District Attorney Jessica Paugh said Nunez left his work at around 11:30 p.m. Saturday, but did not get into his car until around 1:30 a.m. It’s unknown where he was during that two-hour time span.
Paugh said after getting behind the wheel and driving off, Nunez nearly clipped two pedestrians prior to striking Gordon. The prosecutor said Nunez was driving at least 55 mph when he hit Gordon and continued down Market Street.
“He did not brake. He did not stop. All this is on video surveillance,” Paugh said.
A short time later, Nunez allegedly stopped and bought food at Humberto’s Taco Shop in the 1000 block of 25th Street, about a half-mile from the site of the traffic fatality, police said.
Paugh said witnesses at the restaurant saw Nunez inspecting his vehicle, which still had blood on its hood when he was arrested at an Oak Park home three days later. The SUV also sustained damage to its headlights from the impact, according to the prosecutor.
While leaving the eatery, he backed his vehicle into a sedan and was confronted by witnesses before speeding off again, according to investigators.
In the days following the fatality, police circulated an image of Nunez at the taco shop to the public. Surveillance footage and tips from the public led investigators to identify Nunez as the suspect, according to police and prosecutors.
Paugh called Nunez’s alleged conduct “incredibly callous,” saying “there was no way this individual did not know that he struck a human being” prior to his arrival at the taco shop, where he was seen “casually ordering food.”
Defense attorney Gerardo Gonzalez said there was conflicting information regarding whether Nunez was the involved driver.
Gonzalez said Nunez — a Scripps Ranch High School graduate who is employed at a steakhouse in the Gaslamp Quarter — saw his image on the news and planned to self-surrender to authorities, but was unable to prior to his arrest by San Diego police.
After pleading not guilty to the charge, Nunez will return to court Feb. 27 for a readiness conference. He’s being held in custody on $100,000 bail.
Gordon’s wife, Katie, told reporters after the hearing that her husband was “our rock” and “cherished by friends and family across the country.” Though she was not allowed to address the court as Nunez’s bail was being argued, she told reporters that she had wanted to tell the judge, “I felt that if my husband couldn’t come home to his wife and two daughters, that this person didn’t deserve that either.”
An online donation web page established to help the victim’s family can be found at www.gofundme.com/f/jason-gordon-memorial-fund.