A 78-year-old man accused of running down a former Santa Barbara High School baseball coach on the freeway last month is a possible flight risk and he remains behind bars.
Neighbors told investigators Lau Huynh of Murrieta and his family were planning a trip to Vietnam when he was arrested.
Highway Patrol investigators turned to the Chumash Casino to find out who hit and killed 22-year-old Simon Chavez as he crossed the freeway on Jan. 15. Surveillance video showed a white Hyundai Tucson entering and leaving the casino. That is the same type of vehicle that left behind a side-view mirror at the scene of the accident.
Deputy District Attorney Sanford Horowitz said Huynh got to the casino at 1 p.m. and was seen leaving at 12:30 a.m., nearly 12 hours later.
“Mr. Huynh and his wife had left the casino in the suspect vehicle and about 30 minutes later that vehicle was involved in the collision on the 101 south bound,” said Horowitz.
Investigators went to the Huynh house in Murrieta and spoke to the suspect’s daughter.
“She denied knowing her father, Mr. Huynh, and she denied knowing anything about the vehicle which the investigators found in the garage,” said Horowitz.
They got a search warrant and saw the SUV was damaged and had been washed. Investigators towed the vehicle back to the Goleta CHP office and found that DNA evidence was embedded where the side-view mirror was broken off during the accident.
“Hair from the victim as well as some blood,” said Horowitz.
Huynh is charged with leaving the scene of an accident and entered a plea of not guilty.
Investigators told NewsChannel 3 other arrests could be made. NewsChannel 3 learned the daughter might be one of them however authorities won’t confirm that.
“There are perjury charges where that could possibly be a criminal offense but I don’t know all of the details surrounding those statements, I just know what the statements were,” said Horowitz.
Until then, Huynh isn’t talking.
It’s unknown why the victim Simon Chavez was walking on the freeway when he was hit. The toxicology report has not yet been released as of Monday night.
Huynh is expected in court later this week for his preliminary hearing.