Avoiding a public arraignment, the driver who struck and killed a nanny pushing a baby in a stroller in Torrey Highlands last month pleaded not guilty Friday to misdemeanor charges—three days ahead of a scheduled hearing.
Christine Padilla, 35, is charged in connection with the death of 41-year-old Monserrat Mendez. She faces charges of failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk and failure to stop at a red light.
Padilla was scheduled to be arraigned Monday, but according to court officials, her attorney “counter-arraigned” the defendant a business day early. She faces up to a year in jail if convicted.
San Diego County Superior Court rules allow such informal counter arraignments “if the attorney, as authorized by the defendant, enters a plea of not guilty and waives time for trial” and meets other requirements.
The accident at Camino del Sur and Via Verrazzano happened 11:45 a.m. Feb. 1, according to San Diego police.
Investigators said the impact threw Mendez 30 feet and dragged the stroller with a 13-month-old boy strapped inside across the intersection, leaving it wedged under Padilla’s Toyota 4Runner.
Medics took Mendez to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, where she was pronounced dead. The toddler was taken to Rady Children’s Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries, including scrapes and bruises, said SDPD public-affairs Lt. Andra Brown.
An investigation revealed that Padilla was not speeding or talking on her cell phone when the accident occurred, although she had just had a baby the day before, according to police.
A readiness conference for Padilla is set for April 24.
—City News Service contributed to this report.