What to Know
- A man faces second-degree murder and DUI charges in the death of an off-duty Costa Mesa fire captain.
- The fire captain, Mike Kreza, 44, was struck and killed while bicycling in Mission Viejo on Nov. 5.
- Arraignment for Stephen Taylor Scarpa, 25, of Mission Viejo, was rescheduled for Jan. 18.
A man facing second-degree murder and DUI charges in the death of an off-duty Costa Mesa fire captain, who was struck and killed while bicycling in Mission Viejo, appeared in court Wednesday with a new attorney but did not enter a plea.
Arraignment for Stephen Taylor Scarpa, 25, of Mission Viejo, was rescheduled for Jan. 18 in the courtroom at the Orange County Jail in Santa Ana. His bail remains set at $2 million. Scarpa's new attorney, Rudy Loewenstein, declined comment.
Scarpa is charged in the Nov. 5 death of 44-year-old Mike Kreza. The married father of three daughters was training for a triathlon when he was fatally injured. Typically, a deadly collision involving a defendant without a prior DUI conviction would bring a gross vehicular manslaughter charge.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Dan Feldman previously declined to comment on why prosecutors elected to pursue a murder charge, which could result in a sentence of up to 15 years to life in prison if Scarpa is convicted.
A gross vehicular manslaughter conviction does not carry a life sentence. Scarpa was behind the wheel of a van that was eastbound on Alicia Parkway near Via Burgos when it struck the 18-year veteran fire captain about 8 a.m. on Nov. 3, according to Carrie Braun of the Orange County Sheriff's Department. Kreza died at a hospital two days later.
Sheriff's investigators found several prescription medications in the van, Braun said. Federal prosecutors allege that Scarpa received prescriptions from Dr. Dzung Ahn Pham, who is now facing charges of illegally distributing opioids.