A Whittier man accused in a street race that triggered a multi-vehicle pileup on the 5 Freeway in Commerce, killing three people, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to three counts of second-degree murder.
Dealio Lockhart, 35, is also charged with four counts of reckless driving on a highway causing injury stemming from the crash that occurred just after midnight Feb. 27. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Upinder Kalra refused the defense's request to lower Lockhart's $6.2 million bail.
The judge -- who was given a packet of about three-dozen letters from those who knew and had worked with the defendant -- said he did not doubt that Lockhart had engaged in a "very positive life" in the past.
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"Good people do bad things, and there are consequences," the judge said.
Defense attorney Dmitry Gorin, had asked that Lockhart's bail be lowered to $250,000, arguing that his client "had no intent to hurt anyone" and what happened was "an accident."
Lockhart had no prior criminal record and is a college graduate who worked as a field producer on the TV show "Dancing With The Stars," his lawyer said. Outside court, Gorin told reporters that his client cooperated with law enforcement after the crash and is "truly remorseful over the consequences."
Deputy District Attorney Michael Blake told the judge that Lockhart was "playing Russian roulette" with his 4,000-pound Dodge Challenger, which was traveling at 127 mph 2 1/2 seconds before the crash.
"This was an 11-mile race," the prosecutor said, noting that it stretched from Beverly Boulevard to Washington Boulevard. "This was not a situation where you're dealing with an empty freeway."
Authorities are still searching for the other motorist, with $36,000 in reward money offered last month for the driver of the Dodge Charger.
California Highway Patrol investigators said the two Dodge muscle cars were being driven aggressively, with the motorists jockeying for position near the Citadel Outlets.
When Lockhart approached a vehicle moving at normal freeway speed ahead of him, he tried to swerve around it but wound up losing control of his car, according to the CHP. The Challenger hit a UPS 18-wheeler, which went airborne and over the center median, shearing off the top of an oncoming Nissan with four people inside, the CHP reported.
The truck came to rest on top of a red Ford Explorer on the northbound side of the freeway, north of Washington Boulevard, and immediately burst into flames. Debris from the collision also struck a Chevrolet Tahoe and Chevrolet Silverado, which were on the northbound side.
The crash killed UPS driver, Scott Treadway, 52, of Mira Loma, who had been driving trucks for the delivery service for 30 years; and two Valencia residents in the Nissan, Michelle Littlefield, 19, and Brian Lewandowski, 18
Lewandowski and Littlefield -- who were both students at College of the Canyons and worked at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia -- were returning from a trip to Disneyland when the crash occurred. Lewandowski was the son of Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department homicide Detective Victor Lewandowski.
The other two people in the Nissan were critically injured and remain hospitalized, the prosecutor told the judge. Two other people -- a man and a woman -- were also injured in the pileup.