Photo by bloomsberries / via Flickr

A suspected drunken motorist accused of driving in the wrong direction on a North County highway and crashing head-on into another vehicle, killing its driver, pleaded not guilty Friday to murder and other charges.

Robert Nicholas Spence, 36, is accused in the Jan. 3 death of 24-year- old Danielle Foust on state Route 78 in Vista.

Both drivers were taken to hospitals, where Foust died.

Spence remains hospitalized due to serious injuries he suffered in the crash, and his plea was entered Friday morning from the hospital.

Deputy District Attorney David Uyar said Spence had a blood-alcohol level of nearly .24 percent shortly after the crash, which is three times the legal blood-alcohol limit. The prosecutor said police received multiple 911 calls from witnesses who saw the defendant driving the wrong way and crashing into the highway’s cement center median prior to the fatal crash.

Spence is charged with murder due to two prior DUI convictions, one in 2017 in San Diego County and another in 2003 in Riverside County. He also faces charges of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and DUI causing injury.

Bail was set at $1 million and his next court date is a March 16 readiness conference.

–City News Service