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Accused driver of DWI rollover crash says he's not guilty of DWI

James McClain-Green

The teen driver accused in crash that injured a group of Franklin High School students made his first court appearance Wednesday.

He was charged with abuse of child reckless, great bodily harm by a vehicle, three counts of child abuse, aggravated driving while intoxicated, reckless driving and failing to stop at an Intersection indicated by a stop sign.

He pleaded not guilty to all the charges during his arraignment hearing.

A 17-year-old is accused of driving the Jeep that was involved in a serious crash that sent three Franklin High School students to the hospital: James McClain-Green, Michael Nikicicv and Natalia Diaz.

Judge Conrad Perea on Wednesday allowed the suspect out of jail on the terms that he continues to wear his ankle monitor and is home from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

If the suspect needs to be out past curfew, it must be approved by his parole officer, but he must still be home by 9 p.m. regardless, said Perea. Also, the suspect is not allowed to leave Doña Ana County or El Paso and is not allowed to drive.

Perea recommended the teen continue to go to school. He also said the teen has been extremely cooperative with officials and his family.

If the teen violates the conditions of his parole, he could be taken into custody.

KFOX14 is not identifying the suspect because it’s unknown if he is being tried as an adult or a juvenile. Perea was unsure what would be the case but said it would be determined later.

The accident happened at Leeds and Edinburgh in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, around Nov. 17, 2018.

Six people between the ages of 16 and 18 years of age were in the Jeep when the crash happened.

Court documents show the teen driver ran a stop sign at the intersection and collided with a Mitsubishi

Galant, which was driven by James Furman, 28, causing the Jeep to rollover.

The teen driver refused to submit any standardized field sobriety test or chemical testing and told police officers on the scene, "I'm drunk, just take me in." A search warrant for the teen driver’s blood sample was approved by Perea on the night of the incident.

Furman was charged with driving while intoxicated.

The teen’s attorney Jess Lilley said his client is a good kid.

“He comes from a very good family. This is obviously a very difficult thing to go through for him and his family. There thoughts and prayers are with all of those injured in the accident, they are the people who are on their mind the most. We will get through this the best way we can and continue to hope that all those who are injured can heal as quickly as possible,” said Lilley.

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