Motorist Accused in Hit-and-Run Had 7 Tickets
Costa Mesa man had two drunk-driving arrests. Victim is in extremely critical condition.
By Mai Tran, Times Staff Writer
A 26-year-old motorist accused of running down and critically injuring a former high school football coach at an Aliso Viejo shopping center has been ticketed seven times in recent years, including speeding violations and drunk-driving arrests.
Morteza Bakhtiari of Costa Mesa is being held at Orange County Jail on $1-million bail. He is scheduled to be arraigned today in Newport Beach on suspicion of attempted murder, hit-and-run driving and filing a false police report.
Authorities said Bakhtiari ran down John Royston, 41, of Aliso Viejo on Thursday at a shopping center where Royston was having a late dinner with friends.
Royston yelled at the driver to slow down after he spotted the car speeding through the Aliso Viejo Town Center parking lot and running a stop sign, said Jim Amormino, spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
Witnesses said the driver then struck a parked car, spun around and sped toward Royston and his friends, fishtailing as he barreled toward them, Amormino said.
Royston was struck and thrown about 30 feet, Amormino said.
Bakhtiari's silver BMW was later spotted in Mission Viejo. He was arrested the next day after he tried to report his car stolen. Investigators said his passenger had already surrendered by that time.
On Monday, Royston remained in extremely critical condition in a medically induced coma at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo. Royston, a loan officer and a former coach at Santa Margarita High School, is married with three children.
Also Monday, a judge ordered the Department of Motor Vehicles to suspend Bakhtiari's license for failing to appear on a 2005 ticket for speeding and not carrying car insurance.
According to DMV records, Bakhtiari was convicted in June 2000 in San Bernardino County for drunken driving and possession of marijuana. He was convicted of drunken driving a second time in December 2001 and was ticketed for speeding in March and again in September.
OK, Feinstein, get going!!!!! Time to ban cars, for the children.
The Suspects family has hired the shadiest lawyer in OC to represent the driver. A man so sleazy he once referred to a 16yo gang rape victim in open court as a "slut."
Driver in Hit-Run Case Denies Guilt
By Sara Lin, Times Staff Writer
Showing little emotion, Morteza Bakhtiari pleaded not guilty Tuesday to intentionally running down a man in an Aliso Viejo shopping center last week.
Bakhtiari, 26, has been charged with attempted murder, hit-and-run driving and filing a false police report. The Costa Mesa resident could be sent to prison for life if convicted of all charges.
Joseph Cavallo, Bakhtiari's attorney, said outside the courtroom that the victim, John Royston, 41, of Aliso Viejo, and his five companions — authorities have said there were only two — had threatened to kill Bakhtiari and threw a Pepsi can at his silver BMW when he honked at a van delaying him in the parking lot.
Bakhtiari sped away and hit a parked car. When Bakhtiari drove back to the car to check the damage, Cavallo said, Royston and his friends blocked the road. He said Bakhtiari ran over Royston while trying to escape.
"I suppose he could have stopped and proceeded to catch a beating from these six individuals, but that doesn't make any sense to me," Cavallo said.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Scott Simmons disputed Cavallo's version of the incident.
Simmons said Cavallo's account of Royston jumping in front of Bakhtiari's car was false.
"That's in direct contradiction to witness statements. What sane individual is going to put themselves in front of a moving car?" Simmons said.
Orange County sheriff's deputies have said Bakhtiari intentionally ran down Royston after Royston yelled at Bakhtiari to slow down. After Bakhtiari struck the parked car, he spun around and sped toward Royston and his friends, according to the department.
Royston was thrown about 30 feet. He remains in extremely critical condition in a medically induced coma at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo. Royston, a father of three, is a loan officer and a former coach at Santa Margarita High School.
Bakhtiari's car was found in Mission Viejo. Sheriff's deputies arrested Bakhtiari on Friday after he reported the car stolen.
Bakhtiari has been convicted twice of drunken driving and has been ticketed for speeding twice in the last year.
Royston's wife, Arlene, flanked by family members, spoke briefly outside the courtroom Tuesday. "I'm outraged, very hurt and very upset," she said. "There's just no excuse for what this guy did.
"We're just praying and hoping [my husband] makes it," she said.
Bakhtiari is being held at Orange County Jail on $1-million bail.
Nice, anything to win a case. Sounds like a true piece of shit human being.
WTF? Sounds like a real winner. Hopefully the guy will do hard time for a few decades at least. He also deserves his license revoked for life. Hell the same would happen to a firearms owner if he used a gun in the commission of a crime, and that's a RIGHT, not a privledge!