Driver pleads not guilty for New Year’s Day crash that left mother and daughter dead

A male accused of causing what authorities affirm was an alcohol-fueled, multi-vehicle freeway collision that left a mother as well as little girl dead on New Year’s Day pleaded innocent to the charges on Monday early morning throughout his first court appearance.

Via an attorney, Melvin Cleveland Branch, throughout an arraignment hearing at the Central Prison Facility in Santa Ana, pleaded innocent to four felony counts of gross vehicular manslaughter and also driving intoxicated, offense fees of withstanding as well as attack on a law enforcement agent as well as sentencing improvements for purportedly attempting to leave the scene of the fatal collision.

The golden state Highway Patrol investigators declare Branch, who turned 30 on New Year’s Eve, was driving a BMW at an”very high rate of rate” at concerning 12:50 a.m. when he rear-ended 2 automobiles on the 22 highway, eastern of Springdale Street.

Traveling in among the automobiles allegedly struck by branch were Jolene Gardner, 33, and her child, 9-year-old Payton Castillo, who were supposedly heading house from a New Year’s celebration. Their lorry, a Ford F-150, rolled onto its side from the pressure of the accident, as it careened right into a third car.

The girl died at the scene, her mommy a brief time later at a medical facility. According to the CHP, Branch shortly after the crash chewed out police officers from the back of a police car and also smashed one of the lorry’s windows.

Replacement Area Attorney Brian Orue at first declined to file costs versus Branch, mentioning not enough proof. Branch was launched from jail on Thursday night.

CHP private investigators passed on additional records, according to the Orange Area Lawyer’s Workplace, leading district attorneys to make a decision there was sufficient proof to file fees on Friday, and to ask for a warrant for Branch’s arrest. After Monday’s hearing, Orue declined to comment on the situation, or to review what additional evidence

led him to file criminal charges. According to the criminal grievance, Branch had a blood alcohol web content of 0.11 percent complying with the collision, over the 0.08 percent legal limit for driving in The golden state.

Branch surrendered himself at a CHP office in Santa Ana on Sunday morning.

“He firmly insisted on turning himself in at the earliest date,” stated lawyer Mark Fredrick, that is representing Branch.

Branch, that relocated to Orange from Maryland to function first as an airline employee and also extra recently as a cable television service installer, has no rap sheet, his lawyer stated.

“He has expressed only overall despair as well as despair for the family members,” Fredrick said, describing family members of the mom as well as little girl killed in the crash.

Fredrick claimed he hadn’t yet seen the CHP reports, or talked to Branch regarding what he was doing prior to the crash. The defense lawyer said Branch was “stunned” at his treatment by police as well as was a “extremely afraid person” following the crash.

Branch, that is being held in lieu of $300,000 bail, was purchased to go back to court on Jan. 25. If founded guilty, he deals with up to 20 years and also eight months in state jail.

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