A man accused of striking a motorcyclist with a pickup truck, then dragging him nearly a quarter-mile, pleaded not guilty in Milford District Court Monday to charges including motor vehicle homicide.
, was ordered held on $100,000 cash bail, or $1 million surety, by District Judge Robert Calagione.
Guaman, of 10 Cherry St., Apt. 1, Milford, is charged with motor vehicle homicide operating under the influence of liquor, negligent operation, leaving the scene of personal injury and death, possession of open container of alcohol in vehicle, failure to stop for police, unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, failure to stop or yield, resisting arrest and wanton or reckless conduct creating risk to a child.
His 6-year-old son was in the pickup truck, according to a police statement filed with the court.
About a dozen family members and friends of the victim, , attended the arraignment hearing, as well as several people who said they just wanted to show support for the family.
Following the hearing, Denice's brother, stepfather and mother spoke at length with the media about what they would like to see happen through the criminal justice process.
Guaman, a citizen of Ecuador, is an illegal immigrant, according to Milford police. In addition to the criminal charges he faces, he also could face deportation. Federal immigration officials have already told local police they would want him held, should he be released, under a document called a 'detainer.' According to Milford Police Chief Thomas O'Loughlin, an ICE detainer would take effect after any criminal proceedings are finished.
The most serious charge Guaman faces — motor vehicle homicide OUI — is a felony that carries a maximum sentence of 15 years, according to Paul R. Jarvey, a spokesman for the District Attorney's Office in Worcester.
Guaman, who is employed in construction, according to court documents, is next scheduled to appear in court for a pretrial hearing on Sept. 12.
Following the hearing Monday, Denice family members all said they wanted the prosecution to end with a lengthy sentence in the United States.
"I want the defendant to serve a lengthy sentence" said Maureen Maloney. "I don't want this to ever happen [again]." Her son's death, she said, has surfaced major issues in the community, including illegal immigrants driving without licenses, and driving while intoxicated.
"I have nothing against people coming to this country," she said. "It's a wonderful country. But do it the right way."
Her son, she told reporters, was a good son and a good friend, who was on his way home from helping a friend when he was struck and killed. He was a recent graduate of Framingham State University with a degree in information technology.
And although she said she chided him for spending too much of his money on tickets for the Boston Celtics, and such things, she told reporters she's now happy he lived for the moment.
"I'm so thankful he did enjoy every single day he had on this Earth."
Denice was struck about 7:45 p.m. Saturday, according to police documents, by a Ford F150 pickup truck, and his body dragged a distance of a quarter-mile. He was alive following the impact, a state prosecutor said.
Guaman, who was driving the pickup truck, continued on from the impact point at Congress and Fayette streets, to Bancroft Avenue, according to the statement filed by Milford Police Officer Angel Arce. When Guaman turned on to Bancroft, he drove up on the curb, dislodging Denice from beneath the vehicle, Arce wrote, based on witness accounts.
Numerous witnesses told police they either heard the collision, or witnessed the events as the young man was dragged in the road. Several people told police they ran up to the truck, banging on it, trying to get the driver to stop.
Police apprehended Guaman on Lee Street. Arce, who speaks Spanish fluently, asked him how much he'd had to drink, and Guaman responded that he'd had three beers. But Guaman could not follow the directions in a field sobriety test, and was not able to follow instructions in taking a breath test, Arce reported.
Guaman's family earlier Saturday night had reported to police that he was driving, intoxicated, with a child in the car. A "be-on-the-lookout" was issued at 6:18 p.m., according to police records. But the vehicle could not be located. When interviewed, a family member told police "that Nicolas Guaman had been drinking all day . . ." according to Arce's statement.
Michael Denice told reporters that his younger brother died needlessly, as a result of the defendant's actions in not stopping the truck.
"Matthew did not have to die," Michael Denice said. "Had the vehicle stopped after impact, there's a chance he could have survived."
Michael Maloney, his stepfather, said what happened in Milford Saturday was not "an accident."
"This was a murder, as far as I'm concerned," he said. He, too, said he hoped the defendant would serve a full sentence in the U.S., and not simply be deported. His emotions, he said, have been cyclical following the death of his son. He went in to the court feeling anger, he said, but when he looked at Guaman in the hearing, Maloney said, "I saw sorrow."
"Now, I have to have faith in the justice system," Michael Maloney said.
The family has created a Facebook page in Matthew's memory, his brother said, called Justice For Matt. He encouraged people to visit the site.