Portland man pleads not guilty to vehicular homicide

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: September 7, 2011, 6:45 PM

 

A Portland man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to vehicular homicide and felony hit-and-run in the death of a passenger who fell from his moving convertible on Highway 14.

With his court-appointed attorney Susan Stauffer, Russell Amon, 29, appeared before Clark County Superior Court Judge Robert Lewis.

Trial was set for Nov. 14.

Amon is accused of driving his Mercedes convertible recklessly the afternoon of Aug. 20 on Highway 14 east of Washougal. Other drivers told state troopers that they saw Amon speeding, cutting off another car, swerving and spinning out, according to court documents.

The fatality occurred near Washougal, when Amon allegedly accelerated to pass another car. One of his passengers, Jose Gonzalez-Ramirez, 34, was sitting on the trunk lid of the car and fell. Amon allegedly sped off before returning to see a group of people starting to surround the victim, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Gonzalez-Ramirez apparently tried to wave at the driver but the car sped off again, prosecutors said. Gonzalez-Ramirez died at the scene.

The next day, upon the prompting of the second passenger, Amon allegedly turned himself into police.

“Amon said that it was an accident, that he was scared and drove off because he was scared,” Deputy Prosecutor Jim David wrote in the affidavit.

David, in charging papers, alleged that Amon “drove with disregard for the safety of others,” constituting the vehicular homicide charge.

Troopers also alleged that alcohol was a factor.

Amon is being held in the Clark County Jail on $100,000 bail.