RIVERSIDE (CBSLA) — A Riverside County man was charged with murder Wednesday in the death of California Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Licon.

Michael Joseph Callahan, 37, of Winchester, has been charged with one count of second-degree murder, four days after the death of the 27-year CHP veteran. He pleaded not guilty to the charge when he appeared in court Wednesday.

Michael Callahan has been charged with murder in the death of CHP Sgt. Steve Licon. (credit: CBS)

Callahan was determined to be driving under the influence of alcohol when he struck Licon, who was conducting a traffic stop on Interstate 15 just outside of Lake Elsinore last Saturday. Licon’s CHP motorcycle and a 2017 Chrysler 300 were stopped on the freeway’s right shoulder when they were struck by Callahan’s car, which was not in designated freeway lanes.

Licon was taken by medical helicopter to Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar, where he died of his injuries.

The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office says Callahan is being charged in murder in part because of a 2004 misdemeanor DUI conviction out of Orange County. In that case, he was sentenced to three years of summary probation and required to attended MADD classes to learn about the dangers of drinking and driving.

If convicted as charged, Callahan faces a potential sentence of 15 years to life in state prison.

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