The new San Diego County Superior Court in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

A Lemon Grove man who ran over his girlfriend with a rented SUV last year on an East County highway pleaded guilty Thursday to a gross vehicular manslaughter charge.

Rontarieo Deshand Brown, 37, also admitted to allegations of fleeing the scene in connection with the July 27, 2018, death of 46-year-old Bernadette Castillo on state Route 94 in Jamul.

Brown will be sentenced to 13 years in state prison on Dec. 16.

Responding officers found Castillo mortally injured in the street near Steele Canyon Road about 3:30 a.m.

Authorities said Brown struck her with a 2018 Ford Edge and remained at the scene for several minutes, but fled prior to the arrival of law enforcement.

Two days later, authorities found the vehicle — which was captured by several surveillance cameras, including ones at businesses near the scene of the fatality — abandoned on Oakdale Avenue in El Cajon, said CHP public-affairs Officer Travis Garrow.

Investigators believe that Castillo and Brown, who had dated off and on for about 13 years, were embroiled in an argument while traveling in the SUV through East County. The dispute apparently escalated to the point that Brown pulled over on the eastbound side of SR-94, after which Castillo got out and began walking away to the west.

He then put the vehicle into reverse — possibly intending to prevent her from leaving — and backed over her, Garrow said.

Brown was arrested more than a month later at a Coronado hotel.

— City News Service

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