A man is facing a $12 million bail and a potential sentence of 440 years to life in prison for the murder of a woman during a car chase and shootout in Northwest Fresno.
On July 31st, 66-year-old mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother Mary Lou Flores was killed during the resulting chaos. "Everyone who knew her loved her," said Liz Loera, Flores' daughter. "Even as adult children, we could always turn to her for whatever we needed. My kids, whenever they needed a ride or food or anything, they would call her and she would do it."
On Tuesday, a man and a woman were arrested for their alleged roles in the case. 20-year-old Johnny Tapia is charged with murder, nine counts of attempted murder, and four counts of assault with a firearm. His bail was set at $12 million.
His girlfriend, 25-year-old Nicole Williams, faces four counts of assault with a firearm and being an accessory after the fact; her bail is $145,000.
Detectives reported that three vehicles were traveling on Brawley Avenue when someone in a RAV 4 driven by Tapia fired shots at a Nissan Sentra driven by Flores. A 24-year-old man behind the wheel of a Chevy Malibu was shot in the head. He pulled over to call the police.
Tapia and Flores continued driving on Brawley at 60-70 miles per hour before colliding at the intersection of Weber Avenue. The cars caught fire. Flores and her passengers were taken to the hospital, where she was declared dead.
Flores' daughter said she was in another car nearby at the time. "I was there," said Loera. "I was there. I saw them working on her, not breathing."
Authorities say Williams and Tapia fled the scene. If convicted, Williams could face over 7 years in prison. Tapia faces 440 years to life, but some of his current charges may be challenged by the defense.
"If she died due to the car accident, as a result of the car accident, I think the defense could argue that this is not first-degree murder," said Tony Capozzi, Legal Analyst. "This is something else. Maybe it's vehicular manslaughter. Maybe it was an attempted murder, but she died from another cause. So there is room here for the defense to present arguments to reduce these charges."
Tapia has previous convictions that will be considered in this case. He was sentenced to prison for firearm assault and robbery in November 2021. They were also charged on Thursday with aggravated robbery in a case from July 26th. Tapia is facing domestic violence charges in an incident from July 28th.
Williams and Tapia will appear in court again on September 21st.
Originally posted at Liga Legal®