Isaac Gustavo Maldonado pleaded not guilty Wednesday to felony hit-and-run and vehicular manslaughter charges in connection with the death last month of a 3-year-old Merced girl.
The 22-year-old Livingston man was in custody Wednesday during his arraignment in Merced County Superior Court.
Maldonado's bail review was postponed to Dec. 18 after his new attorney, Fresno-based Christopher Caine, asked for more time to review police reports and documents filed in the case by the Merced County District Attorney's Office.
Witnesses told police 3-year-old Dayveonna Polk was walking with family in a crosswalk at the intersection of 18th and R streets on Dec. 4 when she was struck by a purple 1999 Honda Accord, which then drove away, according to police reports.
Dayveonna suffered major injuries and was taken to Valley Children's Hospital in Madera where she later died.
Police believed Maldonado to be the driver after piecing together video surveillance from several businesses in the area of the collision.
Maldonado, who has a lengthy arrest record that includes allegations of burglary, graffiti, vandalism, obstructing and parole violations, was arrested Dec. 5 on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, hit and run and a misdemeanor driving without a license charge that he also pleaded not guilty to Wednesday.
But that's not the whole story on Maldonado, Caine told the Merced Sun-Star. Caine said Maldonado was arrested in the parking lot of a Modesto hospital. He said Maldonado was visiting his girlfriend who was in the hospital for treatment related to complications with couple's born child, who was born prematurely.
Maldonado had lost two other children from miscarriages, Caine said.
"Gosh, what a tragic situation the whole thing is," Caine said. "I'm aware (Dayveonna's) family is understandably, extremely upset."
Caine said that the suggestions Maldonado deliberately wanted to avoid capture and that he is a major criminal were "nothing further from the truth," and that his client needed to be physically present for his wife.
Caine, who said his firm was retained by Maldonado's family in the past week, declined to comment Wednesday on information in police reports he received Wednesday before he could read the information.
Dayveonna's family attended the arraignment Wednesday and said they want justice for Dayveonna.