Accused Hit and Run Driver Maintains Plea of Not Guilty

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The woman accused of killing 17 year-old Emilio Perez on Interstate 88 on March 8, 2014 has appeared in court again. The appearance happened on Thursday, March 12, 2015.

Maria Romero appeared in court with a translator Thursday. Perez was on Interstate 88 near Joslin when he was struck and killed last year. Romero's charged with failing to report the accident within a half an hour of it happening. Romero's attorney challenged the constitutionality of that charge Thursday, saying the fifth amendment prohibits her from being criminalized, for being silent.

"This is a tragedy. Whenever there's a loss of life, it's a great tragedy," Defense Attorney Jim Mertes said. "We are very sympathetic to the family of the deceased. It's certainly a sad case."

"I would expect somebody in this scenario to kind of want it to drag along thinking that we're going to get rid of this and just want to put it behind us, but we're here." Emilio's father Al Perez said Thursday along with his wife Lauren. "I said this early on when Lauren and I were coming out here every weekend looking for answers, we're not going away."

A motion on the constitutional challenge of the charge is scheduled for May 4, 2015. The trial is expected to start July 6, 2015.

For more coverage on the death of Emilio Perez, click here.

For more coverage on Maria Romero's court case, click here.