A teen driver accused of killing a father and his 9-year old daughter as they went on a morning bike ride in Concord in April appeared in juvenile court for the first time Friday morning and pleaded not guilty to vehicular manslaughter charges.
David Rosen, a 17-year-old Concord resident and Olympic High School student, entered the plea in a Martinez courtroom after being charged with two counts of felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence for the deaths of Concord resident Solaiman Nuri, 41, and his daughter Hadessa.
The Nuris, out for a morning bicycle ride, were struck when Rosen's out of control Cadillac Escalade rolled over them at about 9:30 a.m. on April 7 on Treat Boulevard in Concord.
Solaiman Nuri was declared dead at the scene. His daughter died later in a local hospital. A second daughter, Hannah, suffered minor injuries but survived the crash.
Rosen faces two counts of felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence as well as a misdemeanor charge of reckless driving causing bodily injury for allegedly hitting and injuring Hannah, 12. He also pleaded not guilty Friday to two unrelated misdemeanor charges of alcohol possession and possession of a switchblade in connection with incidents in Walnut Creek in March -- weeks before the double-fatal crash.
Prosecutors filed the charges in late July after a lengthy police investigation, Senior Deputy District Attorney Dan Cabral said. Friday's plea entry comes more than four months after the crash -- a lenght of time that has sparked angry calls for justice by Nuri's wife and family members.
Investigators said Rosen was speeding down Treat Boulevard in his SUV when he lost control and struck the father and his two daughters. Witnesses said Rosen's Escalade was traveling at a high rate of speed when it swerved out of control and veered onto the sidewalk, and there were early suspicions that the driver may have been distracted by his cell phone prior to the crash. There has been no word on the results of an investigation into whether the phone was in use at the time.
Stoorai Nuri, the widow of Solaiman Nuri and Hannah and Hadessa's mother, sobbed as she heard the charges read in juvenile court this morning.
"I lost two loved ones, it's not going to bring them back," she told reporters, choking back sobs outside the courtroom. "I just want justice."
Michael Cardoza, an attorney for the Nuri family, said Rosen has not shown any remorse for his actions that day. Cardoza said the family had hoped the 17-year-old would be tried as an adult or at least jailed.
Rosen, who sat next to attorney Peter Coleridge in court
today, is not in custody and living with his parents in Concord. Cabral said that in California, vehicular manslaughter is not in the category of juvenile crimes that can be certified into adult court.
Juvenile Court Judge Lois Haight said Rosen is not in custody because the case was not charged in a timely manner. Under state law, a juvenile must be charged with a felony within 48 hours to be jailed, prosecutors said.
"I think he's a dangerous person," Haight said of the defendant.
The judge asked Rosen's parents, who were present in court this morning, if their son has been on good behavior at home and whether he has a curfew. The pair said their son has a 10 p.m. curfew and has not been driving.
Haight said Rosen is not allowed to drive anything motorized other than a lawnmower and is forbidden from possessing alcohol, drugs or weapons.
The teen is set to return to juvenile court in Martinez at 9 a.m. on Sept. 7 for a pre-trial hearing.
Bay City News Service