Updated 10/28/2009 08:00 PM
Mother Charged In Drunk Driving Accident Pleads Not Guilty
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A Bronx mother charged with manslaughter in connection with a fatal drunk driving accident on the Henry Hudson Parkway earlier this month pleaded not guilty Wednesday morning at her arraignment.
Carmen Huertas entered a not guilty plea to 14 counts against her, including manslaughter, drunk driving, and assault.
Several members of Huertas's family were in state Supreme Court for the arraignment, including her mother and several of her siblings. Huertas was not in attendance. She appeared on a live video feed from Elmhurst Hospital, where her lawyer says she's on suicide watch.
Authorities say Huertas's blood alcohol level was well over the legal limit when she crashed her station wagon along the Parkway near 96th Street early on October 11.
Huertas drove seven young girls including her own daughter were in the car as Huertas drove home to the Bronx from a slumber party in Chelsea that began on Friday. The picture seen above, which can only be seen on NY1, was taken at that party.
The district attorney says during the ride, Huertas played a guessing game with the children – asking those who thought they would make it home without crashing to raise their hands.
Leandra Rosado, 11, died in the crash.
One of the other children is still hospitalized.
Huertas, according to her sister, is devastated by the girl’s death.
“I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. My heart goes out to you and your family. All our hearts go out to him and his family,” said Huertas’s sister Yolanda Velez. “This is a tragedy. I mean, this is a lose-lose situation.”
The lawyer representing Carmen Huertas acknowledged his client made some terrible mistakes that night.
“It's clear that bad judgment was used, poor judgment was used,” said attorney Steven Adam Rubin. “But we don't really want to talk further about the circumstances. This case has just begun. This is the first day of a long process.”
Bail was set at $250,000 cash. Huertas’s sister began sobbing when the amount was read.
The defendant faces up to 15 years behind bars if she's convicted. She will be back in court on December 1.
Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said last week charges may also be brought against others who saw Huertas leaving the party intoxicated, with the girls in her car.