SANTA ANA — A 48-year-old repeat drunken driver admitted guilt and faces 22 years in prison for a hit-and-run collision that left a pedestrian dead in Santa Ana, a prosecutor said Monday.
Dallas Frank Reichstein of Santa Ana pleaded guilty Friday, June 16 to hit-and-run with permanent and serious injury and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, both felonies. A murder charge will be dismissed as part of the plea deal negotiated with prosecutors.
Reichstein’s sentencing was scheduled for Aug. 11 so that family members of the victim, Pearleen Hopkins, could attend, according to Deputy District Attorney Daniel Feldman.
The fatal collision happened near West MacArthur Boulevard and South Bristol Street about 10:10 p.m. on Jan. 28, 2015. Hopkins, a 59-year-old Santa Ana resident, was crossing the road from south to north away from a crosswalk when she was struck by a 2002 Nissan Xterra whose driver was speeding, witnesses told police. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
A police officer who was in the area taking a report on a separate incident heard a loud bang, saw the suspect’s vehicle pass by with heavy damage as the driver shouted expletives, said Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.
The officer followed the vehicle and arrested Reichstein, who had a 2011 conviction for driving under the influence in Orange County and had been warned then that he could face a murder charge if he was involved in a fatal DUI collision, Bertagna said.
Reichstein’s attorneys argued in February that his breath test should be thrown out because he was illegally pressured into taking one after saying he did not want to do so, and was wrongly told it was mandatory.
At the time of the collision, Reichstein was on probation for disobeying a domestic relations court order and for burglary, according to court records.