MERCED — A Merced man pleaded not guilty Thursday to trying to run down another man with his vehicle on Dec. 19 in an incident he told police was caused by an argument over a woman.
Stephen W. Perry pleaded not guilty to a single felony count of assault with a deadly weapon before Judge Mark V. Bacciarini in Merced Superior Court, according to the Court Clerks Office.
Perry, 51, was released Thursday afternoon from the Merced County jail, officials said.
He was ordered to appear in court again Jan. 13 for further court proceedings, according to court and jail records.
Merced police said he tried to run down another man Dec. 19 with a 1995 Geo sedan, narrowly missing the man twice.
The victim, 36-year-old Kirk Stokes of Merced, was not injured.
Investigators said Stokes was riding his bicycle south about 10 a.m. Dec. 19 in the 1700 block of Calimyrna Avenue when he spotted Perry driving east on East 18th Street.
Police said Perry turned his vehicle around and drove toward Stokes, who had to jump off his bicycle to avoid being hit, officers said.
Officers said Stokes climbed back on his bicycle and rode away, but Perry followed and tried to run down Stokes a second time. The victim again avoided being struck by jumping off the bicycle, police said.
Officers found Perry at a home in the 300 block of East 23rd Street and arrested him a short time later.
Perry denied trying to run Stokes down, investigators said.
The defendant also told officers there may have been tension between the two men because he and the victim are romantically interested in the same woman.
Police described the motive for the alleged attack as jealous rage.
Stokes told police he did not know why Perry would try to run him down.