Driver in fatal pedestrian crash incompetent: Prosecutors say he doesn’t understand U.S legal system

More than a year after a woman was hit and killed while walking on a West Chester Twp. Road, the man accused of being behind the wheel of the SUV has been declared incompetent to stand trial. His Hispanic heritage makes him incapable at this time of understanding the United States legal system, according to prosecutors.

Miguel Gomez-Alvarez, who is charged with aggravated vehicular homicide, OVI and failure to stop after an accident, was in Butler County Common Pleas Court on Monday for a hearing, where Judge Noah Powers II made the incompetency ruling following two forensic psychological evaluations.

After more than eight continuances, a trial date was set to begin in March, but cancelled when the defense attorney questioned Gomez-Alvarez’s ability to understand the legal proceedings against him.

On May 29, 2022, Sherry Berna Haywood was killed after she was struck by a vehicle while walking on Muhlhauser Road just west of Ohio 747. The driver of the vehicle left the scene, but after a two–month investigation, a suspect was charged with aggravated vehicular homicide.

The 31-year-old Gomez-Alvarez was indicted by a Butler County grand jury on July 20, accused of hitting Haywood with his SUV, killing her, then leaving the scene.

Assistant Butler County Prosecutor Katie Pridemore said Gomez-Alvarez’s incompetence for trial is based on his inability to understand the legal system, not a mental issue. He speaks Spanish and received a limited education in his native Mexico.

“He remains locked up. The forensics center is going to be in charge of teaching him the American legal system. He does not have a mental defect, he does not have a mental illness,” Pridemore said.

Gomez-Alvarez is scheduled to be back in court Dec. 11 for a review hearing.

A security guard called West Chester Police after finding the 46-year-old Cincinnati woman on Muhlhauser Road just west of Ohio 747. She was dead at the scene. Haywood died of multiple traumatic injuries, according to the Butler County Coroner’s Office.

Prosecutors said Gomez-Alvarez of Springdale had consumed alcohol and was driving without obtaining a license when he hit Haywood and fled. The badly damage SUV was found by a West Chester police officer on June 2 at The Willows Apartment Complex off Chesterdale Drive in Springdale.

Gomez-Alvarez remains in the Butler County Jail in lieu of a $250,000 bond.

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