A suspected drunk driver who plowed into a crowded taco truck last month killing two women plead not guilty today in Los Angeles Superior Court to two counts of murder and other charges.
Elba Jimenez, 37, is being held on $2 million bail. Her next court hearing is scheduled for August 16.
California Highway Patrol officers suspected Jimenez was driving drunk around 11:20 p.m. on June 14. When officers tried to pull her over, CHP said Jimenez sped up and led them on a short chase onto the Golden State (5) Freeway where she exited and blew threw a red light. A dip in the street carried the Toyota Camry through the air and slammed into a taco truck nearby instantly killing two customers, Marlene Alatorre, 19, and Claudia Fernandez, 38.
Fernandez was a mother of four. Alatorre had a one-year-old daughter.
“We’re just taking it day by day,” said Martin Alatorre, uncle to Marlene Alatorre. He and Alatorre’s mother attended Jimenez’s arraignment hearing. The mother wept softly in court after the hearing.
Martin Alatorre said that fatal Saturday night, a few family members hanging out at the house were getting hungry, so Marlene Alatorre decided to pick up a late night snack for the family at the nearby taco truck. Her sister stayed in the car while Marlene waited for the food at the truck.
The grandmother is now caring for Marlene Alatorre’s daughter.
“When she sees pictures she says, ‘Mommy,’ but she’s still young,” Martin Alatorre said.
Attorneys for Elba Jimenez told the court there are several documents, records, and reports that still need to be reviewed by the defense team including surveillance video from a nearby business that recorded the crash.
Drivers who face criminal charges for breaking the law and causing others harm can sometimes face civil lawsuits from the victims.
The attorney representing the Alatorre family, Raul Granados, said he continues to investigate the case and advise the family of their legal rights. He said he had no intention of suing the California Highway Patrol or any party at this time.