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

A man accused of intentionally running down a pedestrian with a pickup truck in downtown San Diego pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a murder charge.

Zachary Addison Porter, 32, of La Mesa, is charged with the April 28 killing of 32-year-old Met Austin Siapengo Simon, who was struck in the 1100 block of Eighth Avenue just after 4:30 a.m.

San Diego police said in April that the victim was dragged across the parking lot near the intersection of Eighth Avenue and B Street by a Ford F-150 flatbed truck that was driven from the scene at high speed.

Medics took Simon to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

SDPD Lt. Matt Dobbs said Simon’s death was initially believed to be the result of a possible hit-and-run accident. But when investigators reviewed video footage of the event, “it became clear the incident was an intentional act.”

Deputy District Attorney Rikole Santin alleged that Simon was walking through a parking lot near his downtown residence when Porter veered his truck into the victim “in a senseless effort to curry favor with a female that he was interested in.”

Santin said that on April 28, Porter was driving a “very distinctive truck” that was sold to him three days prior to the killing. The vehicle was later located in Mexico, according to prosecutor.

Santin alleged that Porter “made no efforts to slow and render aid” to Simon before he “tore out of downtown San Diego to his home in La Mesa,” then fled to Mexico.

Porter was arrested in Tijuana earlier this month, Dobbs said.

Police and prosecutors have not disclosed whether Simon and Porter knew one another.

Porter is being held without bail and is due back in court July 9 for a readiness conference.

— City News Service

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