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Man pleads not guilty to murder, DUI charges in toddler’s death in City Heights

A man accused of driving under the influence last week, fatally striking a toddler walking with family members in City Heights, then fleeing the scene, pleaded not guilty Friday to murder and other charges.

Margarito Angeles Vargas, 45, was arrested Saturday evening, almost three hours after the crash that killed 19-month-old Annaleeh Rodarte. He was arraigned Friday morning in San Diego Superior Court.

After the arraignment, he remained held in county jail without bail.

According to the complaint filed in the case, Angeles Vargas — whose last name is listed as Vargas Angeles in jail records — has a misdemeanor conviction for DUI in San Diego County in 2016. Because of that, prosecutors can argue he is guilty of second-degree murder, which carries a potential prison sentence of 15 years to life.

Angeles Vargas is also charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, DUI, hit and run and driving on a suspended license.

Police said Angeles Vargas sped off after the 1999 Toyota 4Runner he was driving struck the girl, who was headed east on Redwood Street near 39th Street. She suffered head injuries and was taken to a hospital, where she died.

A witness provided officers with the driver’s license-plate number, which led them to Angeles Vargas in the Bay Terraces neighborhood, according to San Diego police Lt. Adam Sharki.

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