The man accused of driving drunk and causing a New Year’s Day pile-up on the 22 Freeway that killed a 9-year-old girl and her mother has pleaded not guilty in the case.
Melvin Branch, 30, appeared in front of a judge for the first time on Monday, facing vehicular manslaughter charges.
He is accused of driving while intoxicated and causing a four-car crash east of Valley View. Payton Castillo and her mother, 33-year-old Jolene Gardner, and a third person were in a pickup truck that overturned in the pileup. The girl died at the scene, the CHP said. Gardner was pronounced dead at UC Irvine Medical Center.Read more: https://abc7.com/traffic/dui-suspect-pleads-not-guilty-in-oc-crash-that-killed-girl-her-mother/5035294/