Thursday, June 13

Suspect arrested in fatal hit-and-run crash that killed homeless man in West Palm Beach

A West Palm Beach faces charges after police said he ran over and killed a 69-year-old homeless man last year.

The hit-and-run crash occurred on Aug. 26 just after 11:30 p.m. in a parking lot located at 1515 N Dixie Hwy.

According to a probable cause affidavit, a witness told investigators that after hitting the homeless man, the driver then drove a blue Audi Q7 across the street to the gated parking lot of Herrera Luxury Motors, a car dealership located at 411 15th St.

The witness said she saw the driver, later identified by police as Santos Rayes Villalba, exit his vehicle to open a closed gate to the property.

The witness, who was driving at the time, said she stopped her vehicle behind Villalba’s car and yelled at him, telling him that he had just driven over a pedestrian.

She said Villalba did not acknowledge her and instead opened the gate and moved his vehicle into the parking lot of Herrera Luxury Motors.

Police later arrived at the scene and interviewed Villalba about the incident.

The affidavit said that Villalba admitted to officers that he drove the Audi from the parking lot to the dealership. When asked if he had driven over a curb or any other object, he told them no. However, police said he admitted to drinking two beers that evening. Two of the officers at the scene said that Villalba had an odor of an unknown alcoholic beverage and his eyes were bloodshot.

Villalba agreed to have his blood drawn to determine the presence of alcohol in his system and also consented to a DNA sample.

Police said they located the Audi involved in the crash but did not find any exterior damage, however it was towed to the West Palm Beach Police Department.

Investigators then reviewed closed-circuit television footage of the crash, which they said showed Villalba getting into the Audi and driving over the victim.

“It should be noted that the footage shows up and down movement of the Audi as if the vehicle had driven over something,” the affidavit stated. “It should also be noted that due to the movement of this vehicle, a reasonable person should have also known that this vehicle had driven over something.”

After Leon was taken to St. Mary’s Medical Center, police interviewed him about what happened.

The victim, identified as Roque Leon, told police that he remembered sleeping on the concrete or in a grassy area when he was run over by a vehicle and then woke up in the hospital.

Police said Leon suffered multiple rib fractures and other lacerations that required reconstruction surgery. Leon later died of his injuries on Sept. 19.

Villalba was arrested Thursday on charges of operating a vehicle without a driver’s license causing death and driving under the influence while causing a crash that caused death.

He appeared in a Palm Beach County courtroom on Friday where it was revealed that Villalba works at Herrera Luxury Motors painting vehicles.

He is being held at the main Palm Beach County jail on a $100,000 bond. The bond conditions included the sheriff’s office monitoring house arrest, no contact with the victim’s family and no driving.

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