TAVARES — A man who was charged with vehicular homicide in August 2016 is wanted again after he failed to appear at a mandatory pre-trial hearing Wednesday morning according to the State Attorney’s office.
Jose Omar Azua was charged after leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in the death of 54-year-old Lori Dudley, a Leesburg local.
Dudley was on her motorcycle stopped at a traffic light at the intersection of U.S. Highway 441 and Plaza Entrance when Azua, who was possibly intoxicated at the time, failed to slow down and ran into Dudley’s motorcycle wedging the bike in the grill of Azua’s vehicle and sending Dudley into the air where she then hit the pavement.
Azua then fled the scene of the accident and returned while police were investigating. After returning, he told officers that he was the passenger in the vehicle and that the driver left on foot.
Police stated in a report that during the time Azua returned to the scene of the accident he smelled of alcohol and was possibly intoxicated.
Two days later, Azua turned himself in at the Leesburg Police department and admitted that he was the driver at the time of the accident leading detectives to believe he was driving under the influence, however, since no alcohol test was done the night of the incident, there was no evidence to support the theory.
Dudley was transported to Leesburg Regional Medical Center where she was later pronounced dead due to injuries she sustained during the accident.
Azua was then charged with vehicular homicide and failure to remain at the scene of a crash involving a death.
Shortly after his arrest, Azua was released from the Lake County Jail after posting a $35,000 bond.
During the last year and a half, investigators and the State Attorney’s office have been gathering enough evidence to convict Azua.
Multiple hearings scheduled during that time were continued as the State Attorney’s office waited on results of a DNA test from DNA collected from the vehicle’s driver-side airbag.
Results from the DNA tests were finally available in late 2017 and reportedly matched the DNA sample Azua provided, placing Azua behind the wheel at the time of the incident. After receiving the DNA results, a new pre-trial hearing was scheduled for January 31, 2018.
At the time of the hearing, Azua, who had reportedly been cooperating with prosecutors, failed to appear in court.
Azua’s defense attorney, Hiram Rodriguez-Garcia told the Judge on Wednesday that despite multiple calls, he had not heard from or seen Azua since December 15, 2017.
After hearing this information, Judge Briggs issued a warrant for Azua’s arrest with no bond.
Central Florida Wire spoke with Dudley’s daughter, Elizabeth Casey who told us that she expressed concerns about Azua fleeing since he was initially released on bond.
Casey stated that since the beginning of the trial, there have been instances where mail sent from the State Attorney’s office to Azua had been returned undeliverable to the address listed on file and that she had raised concerns about that as well and was assured that everything was under control.
Dudley’s brother, Scott Dudley, who currently lives in southern California also spoke with Central Florida Wire and told us that the last year and a half has been a roller coaster of emotions and he wants Azua found and brought in to bring justice for Lori.
Azua is a 34-year-old Hispanic male, 5 feet, 8 inches tall, weighs 160 pounds and has black hair and brown eyes. Azua also has a large outline tattoo on his upper right arm. Anyone with information on Azua’s whereabouts, or may have seen Azua is asked to contact their local police department.