Prosecutors on Wednesday charged Javier Rizo with second-degree murder in the Oct. 27 death of a 34-year-old woman killed when her vehicle was struck by a van fleeing from police.
Rizo, 23, of Wichita, also was charged with three counts of aggravated battery, fleeing or attempting to elude an officer, and one count of misdemeanor battery in connection with the crash that killed Maria Martinez. Martinez died after a van allegedly driven by Rizo ran a stop sign at 24th and North Arkansas and slammed into her sedan. Police have said officers started pursuing the van in Old Town around 2 a.m. Oct. 27 after seeing a man wanted on two warrants get into it.
The chase, which reached speeds of 60 to 70 mph, was called off moments before the fatal collision, police say. The van drove away.
Martinez’s 39-year-old husband, a passenger in the sedan, survived.
Rizo is being held in Sedgwick County Jail on $500,000 bond while awaiting a preliminary hearing in connection with Martinez’s death. He was arrested Sunday after Crime Stoppers received a tip concerning his whereabouts. Others in the van had previously been arrested, police have said.
Wednesday’s murder charge is not the first for Rizo. He pleaded guilty to felony murder as a juvenile in the killing of Gonzalo Gomez on May 15, 2007, in what prosecutors described as a robbery that turned deadly.
As part of the plea, Rizo was sentenced to a detention facility until he was 22 1/2 years old, then supervised release until he was 23.
As of Monday, Rizo is also facing felony charges of fleeing or attempting to elude an officer, driving under the influence, and failure to signal a lane change in connection with a seven-minute police chase in southwest Wichita on June 13. He was arrested and booked into jail on suspicion of 26 traffic violations that day and a warrant was issued for running from his supervised release, but he was not immediately charged, court records show.
Sometime after the chase, Rizo absconded from supervised release again, and another warrant for his arrest was issued on Sept. 27.
Rizo’s bond in the case involving the June 13 allegations is $75,000, according to court documents.