Long Beach man pleads not guilty in DUI crash that killed man in wheelchair

A Long Beach man facing charges including gross vehicular manslaughter for allegedly driving drunk when he fatally struck a 59-year-old man in a wheelchair in an unmarked crosswalk pleaded not guilty Friday.

Joseph Maez, 26, entered his plea to one felony count each of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury and driving with a 0.08% blood-alcohol content causing injury, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Maez was allegedly driving the Honda Civic that struck the victim—identified as Mitchell Morales—who was pushing a cart full of his belongings across Stearns Street at Radnor Avenue at 11:19 p.m. June 12, authorities said.

Morales was pronounced dead at the scene despite life-saving measures attempted by police and fire department personnel.

Maez was arrested June 13 by Long Beach police and released on bond early the next morning, jail records show.

“Driving under the influence is a potentially deadly decision with severe consequences,” District Attorney George Gascon said in a statement announcing the charges last month.

Maez is due back in court on Aug. 16 for a pretrial hearing.

District attorney charges driver who killed man crossing Stearns Street in wheelchair with three felonies

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