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Woman pleads not guilty in fatal July 4 car crash

Posted: September 14, 2011 5:25 p.m.
Updated: September 14, 2011 5:25 p.m.

SAN FERNANDO - A young woman accused of vehicular manslaughter in the death of a Newhall woman during the 2010 Independence Day fireworks show pleaded not guilty to the charge Wednesday.

Melissa Brigette Brown, 23, appeared briefly in San Fernando Superior Court to enter her plea and set a date for a pre-trial hearing next month.

Last month, Brown was ordered to stand trial for the Fourth of July death of Matilde Garnica Juarez, a mother of three.

On July 4, 2010, Garnica was crushed by a car driven by Brown, which was propelled into a crowd of fireworks spectators at the corner of Valencia Boulevard and Mall Entrance Road.

Brown's vehicle allegedly ran a red light before it collided with an SUV, sending it into the crowd.

The pre-trial hearing is expected to update lawyers representing both the prosecution and defense with regards to any possible developments in the case to date, a court official said.

At Brown's preliminary hearing Aug. 16, the court heard from at least three witnesses who attended the 2010 Fourth of July fireworks show, including some who captured on videotape portions of the events preceding the crash.




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