Testimony to Conclude Today in Trial of Man Accused of Killing CHP Officer

City News Service

Testimony is slated to conclude Wednesday in the trial of a 53-year-old convicted DUI offender accused of running over and killing a California Highway Patrol officer on the shoulder of Interstate 15 in Lake Elsinore.

The prosecution and defense are both expected to rest after final witnesses are called in the nearly two-week-long trial. Closing statements may get underway after the lunch recess at the Southwest Justice Center, depending on what Superior Court Judge Timothy Freer decides.

Michael Joseph Callahan of Winchester is facing 15 years to life in state prison if convicted of second-degree murder for the death of CHP Sgt. Steve Lawrence Licon of Perris.

According to the CHP, the veteran motorcycle patrolman was working extra duty on April 6, 2019, because of heavy traffic associated with the “super bloom” of wildflowers in the valleys around Lake Elsinore, which drew large crowds and clogged roadways that March and April.

Licon had stopped the driver of a Chrysler sedan about a mile north of Nichols Road on southbound I-15 for speeding, prosecutors said.

One of the trial’s first witnesses, Justin Mulkey, testified that he was on his way home when he witnessed the defendant, at the wheel of a Toyota Corolla, hit the patrolman and his motorcycle on the shoulder without slowing down.

Investigators said Licon had no time to react when Callahan allegedly came barreling toward him, smashing into him, his motorcycle and the Chrysler.

The lawman was taken to Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar, where he died less than an hour later.

The occupants of the Chrysler escaped with minor injuries, as did Callahan, who was taken into custody without incident.

Callahan, who has a prior DUI conviction in another jurisdiction, is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta.

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