A driver accused of striking two young girls and then fleeing the scene, leaving one brain dead, pleaded not guilty to two felony charges Wednesday.
Julianne Little, 30, pleaded not guilty to felony vehicular manslaughter, non-alcohol with gross negligence, and one count of felony hit-and-run with injury. Little was initially arrested on a DUI charge, but prosecutors declined to file the charge until they receive toxicology results.
At her first appearance in court Wednesday, the judge held Little on $1 million bail, emphasizing the seriousness of the case.
Following Little's court appearance, San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Marissa Bejarano elaborated on the alleged crimes, detailing how Little was driving along Santo Road late Saturday when she veered into the bike path and onto the sidewalk, striking the girls.
Ten-year-old Raquel Lee Ann Rosete was hit by the car as well, Bejarano said. The impact of the crash caused her to collapse on the hood; she was carried 60 feet backwards before Little allegedly backed the car up, throwing Rosete into the bushes, Bejarano said.
Rosete suffered cardiac arrest and a brain stem injury, Bejanaro said. She was declared brain dead Tuesday morning. The family chose not to reveal whether she was still on life support or not.
The 12-year-old was hit by the right side of the car and thrown into the bushes. She suffered a fractured ankle, concussion, and abrasions along her back, Bejarano said; the injuries are serious but non life-threatening.
After the crash, Little allegedly fled the scene and later returned with her father. She was arrested shortly after.
"When she did go home, she fled, meaning she went back home, she told her father she didn’t know what she hit, she told her mother that she believed she hit a brick wall and then later she gave statements to officers indicated she did hit two people," Bejarano said.
Little's attorney, Anthony Solare, said his client was devastated with what happened. Solare told media after the arraignment that Little fell asleep at the wheel just before the crash, exhausted from a stalker trying to contact her.
"What I can tell you is that my client is genuinely devastated by this," Solare said. "I've been doing this a while and I've seen people in different situations and this is somebody who, the effect of this is palpable."
He explained how his client may have fallen asleep at the wheel after being contacted early last week by a man who stalked her. Solare said Little filed a petition against a man who apparently stalker her last March. He said his client feared for her life, causing her to fall asleep at the wheel as a result of sleep deprivation.
Solare previously told NBC 7 there is important information about his client’s culpability that is still unknown.
If convicted, Little could face 11 years and eight months in prison.