NEW YORK (AP) — A man arrested in connection with a car crash that killed a rabbinical college student, his pregnant wife and their baby was charged with criminally negligent homicide and other offenses.
Julio Acevedo was arraigned Thursday night in state Supreme Court in Brooklyn and ordered held without bail. His wife and young daughter were in the courtroom along with other family members and friends.
Acevedo also was charged with three counts of assault and leaving the scene of an accident, reckless driving and excessive speed. Judge Stephen Antignani suspended his driver's license.
Acevedo, 44, was accused of barreling down a Brooklyn street at 60 mph early Sunday and crashing into a hired car carrying Nachman and Raizy Glauber, who were on their way to a hospital.
The car that had been carrying them had a stop sign, though it's unclear whether the driver stopped. The driver was knocked unconscious.
The Glaubers, both 21, died Sunday. Their son, delivered by cesarean section, died Monday.
Acevedo's attorney, Kathleen Julian called the deaths horrendous, but said no crime was committed. "It was an accident. Accidents happen every day," she said.
She said her client, who surrendered to police Wednesday in Pennsylvania, always intended to turn himself in.
"He's obviously heartbroken about what happened," Julian said. "He feels terrible for the family."
At the arraignment, Assistant District Attorney Gayle Dampf said two witnesses who have positively identified Acevedo as the motorist who struck the hired car, saw him drive "around a fire truck then accelerate and plow into a car."
"They approached him," Dampf said. "He said he was fine."
Dampf said the witnesses went to check on the victims and then "they then turned around and the defendant was gone."
Earlier Thursday, police released a statement saying they had charged Acevedo with one count of vehicular manslaughter, among other charges.
Jonah Bruno, a spokesman for the district attorney's office, declined to say why prosecutors charged Acevedo with criminally negligent homicide rather than the manslaughter charge.
Antignani granted an order of protection to the livery driver who was involved in the accident. When the judge asked Acevedo, dressed in a white T-Shirt, light blue hooded sweat shirt black sneakers. if he understood the order of protection, he responded "yes."
It was not immediately clear why the judge issued the protection order.
Acevedo's next court appearance is March 13. He faces a minimum of 15 years to life in prison if convicted on the more serious charges.
Acevedo arrived in New York on Thursday after agreeing to be returned from Pennsylvania, where he had surrendered to police in the parking lot of a Bethlehem convenience store a day earlier.
At an appearance in Pennsylvania, Acevedo told Judge Kelly Banach that he had finished the 11th grade, was unemployed and lives in Brooklyn with his mother.
His surrender was brokered by a friend who had been in touch with police earlier Wednesday. The friend met officers at New York's Grand Central Terminal and led them to Acevedo in Bethlehem, about 80 miles away, police said. The friend had told police that Acevedo would surrender after consulting an attorney, but there wasn't one with him when he turned himself in, police said.
Acevedo told the Daily News of New York that he was fleeing a gunman who was trying to shoot at him when his borrowed BMW slammed into the Glaubers' hired car. He told the newspaper he fled because he was worried he would be killed. But police said there were no reports of shots fired in the area at the time of the wreck.
The couple belonged to a close-knit ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, which is home to the largest community of ultra-Orthodox Jews outside Israel, more than 250,000. They were members of the Satmar Hasidic sect.
Associated Press writer Michael Rubinkam in Bethlehem, Pa., and photographer Mary Altaffer contributed to this report.