IE Man Charged With DUI Murder Of CHP Motorcycle Sergeant Pleads Not Guilty
MURRIETA (CNS) - A man accused of striking a veteran California Highway Patrol sergeant while driving drunk on Interstate 15 in Lake Elsinore last weekend was charged Wednesday with second-degree murder.
Michael Joseph Callahan, 36, could face 15 years to life in state prison if convicted of killing Sgt. Steve Licon last Saturday.
Callahan appeared before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Stephen Gallon and pleaded not guilty. He remains in custody at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside in lieu of $1 million bail pending a felony settlement conference for May 16 at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta.
Licon, 53, of Perris was conducting traffic enforcement on his CHP
motorcycle about 4:25 p.m. Saturday when he was struck on southbound I-15,
about 1 1/2 miles north of Nichols Road.
The area has been besieged with visitors to see the now-fading wild
flower ``super bloom'' on the hills around Walker Canyon, and over the last two
weeks, the CHP and sheriff's office had increased patrols to prevent traffic
Moments before he was struck, Licon had stopped the driver of a
Chrysler sedan for an unspecified traffic violation. The 28-year CHP veteran
was on the shoulder of the freeway when Callahan allegedly plowed into him, his
bike and the Chrysler from behind, investigators said.
Licon died at Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar less than an
hour later. The family of four in the Chrysler escaped injury.
Callahan was treated for minor injuries and booked into jail.
Prosecutors contend he was drunk at the time of the crash, although they
declined to reveal his alleged level of intoxication.
According to the District Attorney's Office, Callahan was convicted of
misdemeanor DUI in Orange County in 2004, when he was placed on probation
and ordered to attend classes in which he was ``educated about the dangers of
drinking and driving.''
Licon, who had previously held positions in the Baldwin Park and Santa
Ana CHP offices, is survived by his wife, Ann, daughter Marissa and
stepdaughter Kelly. He had been assigned to the Riverside CHP office since
2013, according to the agency.
The California Association of Highway Patrolmen Credit Union is
accepting donations online at
https://www.cahpcu.org/SergeantSteveLiconMemorialFund, or at the following
address: Sergeant Steve Licon Memorial Fund, CAHP Credit Union, P.O. Box
276507, Sacramento, CA 95827-6507.