Man accused of stolen SUV crash, killing girl, to remain in jail
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The man accused of stealing an SUV and killing a 10-year-old girl in a crash faced a judge Monday.
John Bearden Jr. is now facing a charge of vehicular homicide following the death of Penny Pizarro last month.
Penny and her father, David, were driving in southeast Albuquerque in March. According to police, Bearden blew past a stop sign and hit their vehicle.
They said Bearden was high on meth at the time and was driving a state government SUV that was stolen from Expo New Mexico nearby.
Penny died three weeks after the crash, while her dad is still recovering from a traumatic brain injury.
Fundraisers for the family were held both online and at Penny’s school in Mesa del Sol.
Following her death, the district attorney’s office revised the charges against Bearden to include homicide by vehicle. He was arraigned in court on that charge Monday.
Bearden waived a formal reading of the updated charges and entered a not guilty plea.
Montano: “You wish to enter a plea of not guilty?”
Bearden: “Correct, at this time, yeah, correct.”
Last month, Judge Stan Whitaker found Bearden to be a danger to the community and ordered him to be held in jail until his case wraps up. On Monday, Judge Joe Montano upheld that order.
Following his first arraignment in April, Bearden’s lawyer made it clear they hoped to strike a plea deal with the state. It looks like that’s still the case, even with the new charge.
“The only thing I would say it just to let the DA know we would like to enter into plea negotiations as soon as possible,” said defense attorney James Newell.