Undocumented Immigrant Charged With Vehicular Homicide in Crash Pleads Not Guilty

Undocumented Immigrant Charged With Vehicular Homicide in Crash Pleads Not Guilty


By Mike Hedeen

An undocumented immigrant accused of triggering a deadly crash that left a 14-year-old girl dead pleaded not gulity in state Supreme Court Tuesday.

Efrain Lopez-Contreras, 30, was originally indicted on vehicular assault and DWI charges stemming from the Christmas Eve head-on crash. Now, Lopez-Contreras faces a new indictment with more serious charges from an indictment that was handed up last month.

Lopez-Contreras pleaded not guilty to a 14-count indictment that now includes vehicular homicide and vehicular manslaughter. The additional charges stem from the death of 14-year-old Giana Bartolucci in June from complications related to injuries she sustained in that crash.

Giana and her father, Tony, were on their way home from Christmas tree shopping when they were hit head-on by a car allegedly driven by Lopez-Contreras. Both father and daughter sustained serious injuries. Giana’s death and other underlying circumstances resulted in six counts of vehicular homicide being filed against Lopez-Contreras.

“Two of them are from the .18 element of blood alcohol content, two for having a prior conviction, two for having serious physical injury to another person in addition to the death. Those are the building blocks for these charges,” said Raymond Benitez, prosecutor.

Benitez said Lopez-Contreras was deported following a 2010 DWI conviction in Orleans County. He later re-entered the country illegally.

A trial date of Jan. 9 was set for Lopez-Contreras. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.