DNA evidence left at the scene of a hit and run crash in downtown Los Angeles that killed a cyclist led the suspected driver to be charged with murder, police said Thursday.
Ronald Earl Kenebrew Jr., 36, was identified as the suspect in the crash that killed Branden Finley, 46, after detectives scoured the massive DNA database known as the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS ). Police Department.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office on Thursday filed three counts against the Lancaster man, including murder, carjacking and hit-and-run, police said. He was being held in the Los Angeles County Jail on $ 2.2 million bond.
LAPD investigators learned of DNA evidence matching Kenebrew on May 11, police said. The Lancaster man has been held by Los Angeles County Sheriff officials for robbery since February 11, nearly a month after the fatal crash.
Kenebrew has also been linked to the crime after detectives identified him as the suspect in morning footage of the collision, when he allegedly stole a white 2010 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck in the 900 block of Wilshire Boulevard. Surveillance footage was released by the LAPD on the day of the accident.
Police said a man approached the owner of the truck and asked him to drive it, but the owner of the vehicle refused. The man then entered the truck, locked himself in and fled – in doing so, while the owner of the vehicle climbed onto the platform of the truck in an attempt to stop him, police said.
From there, the man behind the wheel of the truck drove onto Seventh Street. According to police, witnesses said he squeezed in and out of traffic, sometimes driving on the wrong side of the road. He was accelerating when he hit a cyclist as he approached Olive Street, police said.
But he didn’t stop and fled instead, traveling east on Seventh Street.
Friends of Finley said he was riding his bike to meet friends at the time. They described him as a “pure and genuine soul” and “the best of us all”.
Her 18-year-old daughter, Koi, pleaded for authorities to find her killer as she spoke to reporters a day after the tragic accident. “I’m not doing well unless this killer is found,” she said.
“Please find my father’s killer, he deserves justice,” Koi said. “If you know this man, if you know this killer, if you hear anything, please let the LAPD know. We won’t stop talking about it, we won’t breathe, we won’t eat, until my father’s murderer is found.
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