A man accused of driving while under the influence of nitrous oxide and causing a crash that killed an 11-year-old girl at a Boyle Heights taco stand pleaded not guilty Wednesday to two felony counts.
Joe Louis Perez, 23, was charged last Oct. 5 with one felony count each of gross vehicle manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence of a drug causing injury, along with allegations of causing great bodily injury.
He is accused of being under the influence of nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, about 7 p.m. Nov. 10, 2017, while driving on Whittier Boulevard in Boyle Heights.
According to prosecutors, he crashed his car into a parked vehicle in the 900 block of South Marietta Street, forcing the parked vehicle onto a curb, where it struck a group of people gathered at the taco stand.
The crash killed 11-year-old Elektra Yepez and injured her mother and two aunts.
Perez was arrested at the scene following the crash, but was not immediately charged and was released from custody. He was subsequently re-arrested last Nov. 1 and released on bond, according to jail records.
He is due back in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom on Feb. 15, when a date is scheduled to be set for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to require him to stand trial.
Perez faces up to 13 years and eight months in prison if convicted as charged, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
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