Bail denied for Wheeling man charged with running down, killing former friend

He's accused of using SUV to kill former friend

  • Jose Fermin Zavala- Hernandez

    Jose Fermin Zavala- Hernandez

  • Authorities say Jose Fermin Zavala-Hernandez was driving this SUV when he intentionally struck a former friend and then crashed into a house on Equestrian Drive in Wheeling.

    Authorities say Jose Fermin Zavala-Hernandez was driving this SUV when he intentionally struck a former friend and then crashed into a house on Equestrian Drive in Wheeling. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer, May 20

 
 
Updated 10/15/2020 8:47 PM

A Wheeling man who authorities say turned an SUV into a weapon he used to "run down" and kill a former friend last May was ordered held without bail Thursday.

Jose Fermin Zavala-Hernandez, 38, is charged with first-degree murder in the May 20 death of 32-year-old Carlos Maciel Pulido, also of Wheeling.

 

Granting prosecutors' no bail petition, Cook County Judge Ellen Mandeltort found "the defendant poses a real and present threat to the physical safety of any person or persons."

Until Wednesday, Zavala-Hernandez was incarcerated in Indiana on an unrelated matter, police said.

Authorities say the friendship between the men soured following a May 17 domestic violence incident in which Zavala-Hernandez is accused of assaulting his wife, cutting off a Cook County-issued ankle monitor and fleeing.

About 7:20 a.m. May 20, prosecutors say, several witnesses saw the victim "running for his life from the vehicle," which they say Zavala-Hernandez was driving. According to Assistant Cook County State's Attorney Mary McMahon, Zavala-Hernandez was accelerating at 33 mph in the SUV when he struck Pulido and crashed into the home.

Pulido, who was pinned beneath the vehicle, died from multiple blunt-force injuries, according to a medical examiner's report.

Afterward, Zavala-Hernandez ran from the car with a witness in pursuit, McMahon said. An altercation ensued during which the witness fell, then arose and continued to pursue the defendant, she said.

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The witness subsequently identified Zavala-Hernandez as the SUV's driver, McMahon said. DNA found inside the vehicle matched Zavala-Hernandez, she said.

Zavala-Hernandez fled to Indiana, where he was arrested June 17 following a road rage incident and a subsequent high-speed chase which exceeded 100 mph, McMahon said.

"It's clear this defendant poses a clear and present threat to any person ... based on the deliberate facts of this case of turning a car into a weapon and running down the victim," McMahon said.

Zavala-Hernandez will return to court at 9 a.m. Oct. 30.

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