An unlicensed driver high on drugs who ran ran over and killed a Tour de Palm Springs cyclist in 2018 was convicted on Monday of second-degree murder in California.

A jury unanimously found Ronnie Ramon Huerta Jr., 26, guilty of murder, as well as driving under the influence of drugs resulting in great bodily injury, reckless driving and driving without a valid license. Huerta faces a minimum of 15 years to life in state prison, with a final sentencing hearing scheduled in June.

According to court documents:

Huerta had a lengthy crime record when he ran over and killed 49-year-old cyclist Mark Kristofferson at the Tour de Palm Springs gran fondo, including: repeat traffic offenses, seven citations for speeding, failing to obey traffic signs, making unsafe lane changes and distracted driving. In 2017 the State of California deemed his driving so unsafe they suspended his driver’s license.

On 10 February 2018, Huerta was smoking marijuana and driving dangerously 90 mph on a rural two-lane desert road past Tour de Palm Springs cyclists for more than 15 miles. He then came upon a truck driving cautiously at slow speed due to the cyclists. Huerta impatiently attempted to pass the slow-moving vehicle. As he sped around it, his tires went off the roadway, he lost control and plowed directly into Kristofferson.

After Huerta’s vehicle came to a stop, he tried to flee the scene by running into the desert. Several Tour de Palm Springs cyclists detained Huerta, while others rendered emergency medical aid, but upon arrival paramedics declared Kristofferson deceased. Police then arrested Huerta on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter.

Photo Credit: PSPD / KESQ

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