An illegal immigrant accused of killing a 23-year-old Milford man in a hit-and-run accident Saturday night was ordered held on $100,000 cash bail as the victim's heartsick family members looked on in Milford District Court yesterday.
Judge Robert Calagione entered a not guilty plea on behalf of Nicolas D. Guaman, 34, of 10 Cherry St., Apt. 1, Milford. Guaman was arrested Saturday after police say his pickup truck hit Matthew J. Denice, who was on a motorcycle, and dragged his body a quarter-mile.
Asked if she was angry, his mother Maureen Maloney said: "I can't have anger. I'm just so broken-hearted to not have my son."
Maloney said she is not against immigration, but said people need to enter the country the "right way."
Denice's stepfather, Michael Maloney, called the incident a "murder" and said Denice was a "great all-American kid."
The family said they want Guaman to be prosecuted here and receive a lengthy sentence, rather than simply being deported.
Guaman has been charged with negligent vehicular homicide while driving under the influence of liquor, leaving the scene of an accident involving personal injury and death, possession of an open container of alcohol in a vehicle, failure to stop for police, unlicensed driving, failure to yield at a stop sign, resisting arrest and wanton or reckless conduct creating risk to a child, according to court documents.
Milford Police Chief Thomas O'Loughlin said Guaman told police he was in the country illegally. Homeland Security is investigating and has issued a detainer warrant, which would become activated when the court process is completed.
He could face up to 15 years in jail if he is found guilty of the vehicular homicide charge.
Denice, of 22 Debbie Lane, was pronounced dead at Milford Regional Medical Center after the crash at 7:50 p.m. Saturday.
Outside of court yesterday, his family fought back tears as they remembered him as someone who enjoyed skateboarding, snowboarding and watching Boston sports teams.
He had recently graduated from Framingham State University with a computer degree and hoped to work in law enforcement, his mother said.
"Matthew was the love of my life," Maureen Maloney said. "He was just so full of energy and life."
He was on his way home from helping a friend Saturday when he was hit, she said.
Police said Guaman, driving his 2004 black Ford pickup truck, failed to yield at a stop sign at Congress and Fayette streets, striking Denice on his 2003 Buell motorcycle and dragging his body about a quarter mile.
Denice was alive when Guaman dragged him with his truck, said Worcester County District Attorney spokesman Paul Jarvey.
Denice's body was dislodged from under Guaman's truck when he ran off the road at the corner of West and Bancroft streets, police said.
A prosecutor said that when Denice became dislodged from the truck, Guaman backed up over Denice and drove off.
Officers pursued the pickup truck down several roads before stopping it near the intersection of Lee and West streets, according to a police report by Officer Angel Arce that was included in court documents.
Arce saw Budweiser beer cans in the pickup truck. The driver, later identified as Guaman, had "bloodshot and glassy eyes," Arce wrote.
A boy, later identified as Guaman's 6-year-old son, got out of the truck and started punching and kicking officers. The boy yelled at officers to leave his father alone, Arce wrote.
The boy's mother, Maria Yupanqui, came to the station and took custody of the boy, according to the report.
Guaman told police he had a green light at the intersection and, while making the turn, the motorcycle came out in front of him and caused the accident. He said he did not stop because the truck was damaged and he didn't know what to do, according to the report.
The pickup truck was registered to Guaman's bother, Pablo Guaman. He was issued a summons for allowing an unlicensed driver to drive the pickup, police said.
"It's a distressing event," O'Loughlin said. "You have a young man, his whole future ahead of him. He was 23, just finishing college, by all accounts a good guy. Professionally, it was a horrific scene to be involved in. ... Your heart aches for the family."
Guaman had been arrested three times since 2007 for driving without a license in Milford, Uxbridge and Attleboro, O'Loughlin said.
The Attleboro charge was dismissed. Guaman also served one year of probation from May 2008 to May 2009 for charges that included assault and battery on a police officer and assault on a firefighter after a 2008 incident in which he interfered with the treatment of a family member who had allegedly attempted to enter someone else's home, O'Loughlin said.
O'Loughlin said Saturday's incident underscores the importance of the Secure Communities Act, which would allow fingerprints to be sent directly to Homeland Securities officials. In this case, Milford Police had to call federal officials to send them the fingerprints.
"As Worcester County Sheriff I want to be emphatically clear that if the Secure Communities Act was already in place, a criminal alien such as Nicholas Guaman with a prior arrest record could have been identified by the Department of Homeland Security and ICE giving them the opportunity to deport Mr. Guaman in advance of this horrific crime on Aug. 20," Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis said in a statement.
Several of Denice's neighbors said they were shocked to learn about his death.
"He was the kind of kid every parent wants," said John Scenti, 54, who recalled that Denice would always wave when driving by his home.
Rich Newton, 57, said he hopes the event prompts law enforcement leaders to take a tougher stance on illegal immigration.
"He was just a nice kid who didn't deserve to die," Newton said.
Yupanqui, who said through a Spanish interpreter that she was Guaman's wife, told reporters they had been in the country for five years and married for 15 years. She said she hoped her husband will be deported to Ecuador so he doesn't have to suffer here.
Wilson Valdez, the owner of Unienvios on Main Street, said Guaman was "a hard worker" and had been his customer for the past five years.
Valdez emphasized that the incident should not reflect on all immigrants.
Guaman's court-appointed lawyer declined to speak to reporters outside of court because he won't be representing him in the future.
Guaman is scheduled to be back in court Sept. 12.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this story.
Brian Benson may be reached at 508-634-7582 or firstname.lastname@example.org.