Following a car crash in July that sent him, his wife and his daughter careening into the back of a 7-Eleven on Motor Parkway, a Westbury man now faces felony aggravated vehicular homicide, second-degree manslaughter, and DWI charges under Leandra's Law after his 10-month-old daughter died of brain injuries last week.
A prosecutor with the office of District Attorney Thomas Spota said at an arraignment on Wednesday that Jose Escobar, 29, drank a six-pack of Heineken, drove at speeds up to 100 miles per hour, and had a blood alcohol level over three times the legal limit before he
His girlfriend, 27-year-old Maria Guillen, was eight months pregnant at the time with his child, who was saved through an emergency c-section performed at Stony Brook University Medical Center.
On Wednesday, Escobar pleaded not guilty to the upgraded charges, as Suffolk County Judge John Toomey unsealed a thirteen-count indictment. Escobar stands charged with three counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, manslaughter in the second degree, two counts of aggravated DWI with a child, aggravated DWI, two counts of DWI, endangering the welfare of a child, reckless driving, speeding, and failure to stay in a lane of travel.
Judge Toomey set bail at $750,000 bond, or $500,000 cash.
According to Assistant District Attorney Patricia Brosco, Escobar and Guillen were on their way to dinner on July 20, when Escober stopped and picked up a six-pack, all of which he drank on the way to dinner. The two reportedly got into a disagreement in the parking lot about the drinking, Brosco said.
Escobar allegedly sped off with Guillen and their daughter in the car and crashed into the back of a 7-Eleven on the intersection of Motor Parkway and Wicks Road, off Exit 53 on Expressway Drive North.
The couple's daughter, Helen Escobar, was transported to Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York in New Hyde Park following the crash. She died on July 26.
Escobar stood with his head down in court on Wednesday as his attorney, Hauppauge-based Phil Solages, spoke on his behalf.
Solages said Escobar, a native of El Salvador, remains no flight risk, having family ties to the area, a temporary protected nationalization status, with no track record in the criminal justice system. He has lived in Westbury for the past 12 years, Solages said. Escobar's sister and two others were in court on his behalf.
Solages said following the arraignment that the defendant is "saddened, and trying to cope with the loss of a child."
Brosco requested, and received, a stay-away order for Escobar's newborn daughter, Skyler Grace Escobar, who remains in the custody of Nassau County Child Protective Services. She said the mother, an undocumented alien, is moving to Las Vegas after seriously injuring her ankle in the crash.
Escobar is due back in court on Sept. 14.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly reported that the crash occurred on July 20.