A jury convicted a Los Angeles man Thursday, May 18, of killing a woman and five of six dogs she was shuttling after he fled from Long Beach police in a reported stolen van four years ago.
Javier Olivarez Jr., 47, is scheduled to be sentenced June 21 after jurors found him guilty of murder, fleeing a pursuing peace officer’s motor vehicle causing death, driving or taking a vehicle without consent and six counts of animal cruelty in connection with the May 7, 2019, crash at Third Street and Temple Avenue.
Olivarez had stolen a Nissan van from LAX Van in the 3200 block of Cherry Avenue sometime after it had been returned on May 5, 2019. It was last seen by an employee about 1 p.m. that day, who then reported it stolen, Deputy District Attorney Karen Brako said.
About two days later, Long Beach Officer Maxwell Schroeder spotted the van parked at Second Street and Alamitos Avenue near the Vagabond Hotel and began following the van after it started moving.
After briefly losing sight of the van, the officer then spotted it turning eastbound onto Broadway.
Schroeder activated his lights and sirens and a pursuit ensued.
Olivarez traveled upward of 50 miles per hour and ignored at least two stop signs during the 2-3 minute pursuit. While heading eastbound on Third Street, he blew through a stop sign and slammed into the driver’s side of a Ford Escape driven by 41-year-old Jessica Bingaman, who was shuttling six dogs as part of her dog day care service, The Pawtenders.
Four parked cars absorbed damage during the crash, and a tire from Bingaman’s SUV flew off and damaged a nearby concrete wall.
Olivarez was taken into custody and hospitalized for treatment of his injuries before being booked into jail.
Besides Bingaman, also killed were:
Sasha, a yellow Labrador
Indy, a chocolate and gray Labrador
Maggie Moo, a Portuguese water dog
Scout, a German shepherd
Toots, a pitbull mix
Jessica Bingaman, 41, was killed in a crash in Long Beach that also killed five dogs. (Courtesy of Bingaman Family)
Bella, an Ibizen hound, survived but was severely injured.
Jurors previously heard from a toxicology expert, who told them Olivarez had amphetamine and methamphetamine in his system at the time of the crash.
“It’s not like driving under the influence of alcohol,” Brako said. “It makes you overconfident and aggressive.”
Olivarez’ attorney, Efren Navar, argued in closing statements on Thursday that his client did not deliberately act with disregard for human life and had no intention of killing anyone that day.
“Prior to the accident he took his foot off the accelerator and turned the steering wheel to try to avoid striking other vehicles,” Navar said. “After the accident, Mr. Olivarez asked five times ‘are they okay?’ and four times ‘are they hurt?’”
Olivarez was traveling 68 mph at the time of the crash, and had only applied the brake pedal a second before colliding into Bingaman’s vehicle, Brako said.
“Running a stop sign at 68 mph demonstrates implied malice. A 25-mph sign was posted right at the intersection” Brako said. “It’s common knowledge that flying through a stop sign at that speed puts lives at risk.”
Brako continued that Olivarez’ attempt to apply the brake pedal a mere second before impact did nothing for the victims.
Olivarez had prior convictions for unlawfully planting or cultivating marijuana in 2002, second-degree robbery in 2007 and receiving stolen property in 2014, Long Beach police have said.
Bingaman left behind a daughter and was well known in the neighborhood.
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