Police / Fire

Suspect appears in court in hit-and-run case

If Jessica Diane Chacon Aviles goes to trial and is convicted, she will face up to four years in prison.
San Benito County DA Joel Buckingham meets outside superior court to talk with the family of Nikko Espinoza. Photo by John Chadwell.
San Benito County DA Joel Buckingham meets outside superior court to talk with the family of Nikko Espinoza. Photo by John Chadwell.

Jessica Diane Chacon Aviles was in court early Feb. 23 before Superior Court J. Omar Judge Rodriguez to schedule upcoming hearings before a possible trial on a hit-and-run charge stemming from a November 2020 incident which resulted in the death of Hollister resident Nikko Espinoza. Chacon Aviles was arrested May 12, 2021.

District Attorney Joel Buckingham told BenitoLink that Chacon Aviles pleaded not guilty Dec. 21, 2022.  He said the normal progression of hearings is a series of preliminary hearing setting dates. 

“Today, a preliminary hearing was set for April 28, which will be the initial evidentiary hearing before a judge to ensure that there is at least probable cause for the case to go to trial,” he said. “Ms. Chacon is being charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving injury or death without performing required duties. Otherwise known as hit-and-run driving involving injury or death.”

As Chacon Aviles walked quickly away from the San Benito County Superior Court, a woman standing in a crowd of about 40 family members and supporters of Nikko Espinoza shouted, “Jessica Chacon Aviles, man killer.”

Buckingham said that, if convicted, Chacon Aviles could be facing two to four years in state prison.

“Recent law changes make the maximum of four years in state prison extremely unlikely to be imposed,” he said.

Chacon Aviles was arrested May 12, 2021, on suspicion of homicide. According to Hollister police, on Nov. 19, 2020, around 2:09 a.m., officers were dispatched to the 100 block of East Park Street for a report of an adult male found in the roadway unconscious and bleeding from the head. Officers later identified the man as Hollister resident Nikko Espinoza, 28.

For two consecutive hearings 40 or so family members and friends of Espinoza were present and wearing sweatshirts in support of the family. After the hearing, Buckingham met with them outside the courthouse to answer their questions.


Related BenitoLink stories

Hollister woman facing hit-and-run charges gets February court date | BenitoLink

Family of Nikko Espinoza seeks answers | BenitoLink

HPD arrests homicide suspect | BenitoLink



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John Chadwell

John Chadwell is a freelance photojournalist with additional experience as a copywriter, ghostwriter, scriptwriter, and novelist. He is a former U.S. Navy Combat Photojournalist and is an award-winning writer, having worked for magazine, newspapers, radio and television. He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Chapman University and graduate studies at USC Cinema School. John worked as a scriptwriting consultant, and his own script, "God's Club," was produced and released in 2016. He has also written eight novels, ranging from science fiction to true crime, which are sold on Amazon. To contact John Chadwell, send an email to: [email protected]