(CBS/AP) NEW YORK - A man accused in a hit-and-run collision that killed a rabbinical college student, his pregnant wife and their premature infant was charged Thursday night after making his first court appearance in Brooklyn.
Julio Acevedo, 44, was arraigned in state Supreme Court in Brooklyn and ordered held without bail. He was charged with criminally negligent homicide, three counts of assault and leaving the scene of an accident, reckless driving and excessive speed. Judge Stephen Antignani suspended his driver's license.
Acevedo was accused of speeding down a Brooklyn street at 60 mph early Sunday and crashing into a hired car carrying Nachman and Raizy Glauber, who were on their way to a hospital. The Glaubers, both 21, died Sunday. Their son, delivered by cesarean section, died Monday.
Kathleen Julian, Acevedo's attorney, called the deaths horrendous, but said no crime was committed.
"It was an accident. Accidents happen every day," she said.
She said her client, who surrendered to police Wednesday in Pennsylvania, always intended to turn himself in.
"He's obviously heartbroken about what happened," Julian said. "He feels terrible for the family."
At the arraignment, Assistant District Attorney Gayle Dampf said two witnesses positively identified Acevedo as the motorist who struck the hired car and saw him drive "around a fire truck then accelerate and plow into a car."
"They approached him," Dampf said. "He said he was fine."
Dampf said the witnesses went to check on the victims and then "they then turned around and the defendant was gone."
Earlier Thursday, police released a statement saying they charged Acevedo with one count of vehicular manslaughter, among other charges.
Jonah Bruno, a spokesman for the district attorney's office, declined to say why prosecutors charged Acevedo with criminally negligent homicide rather than the manslaughter charge.
Antignani granted an order of protection to the livery driver who was involved in the accident. When the judge asked Acevedo if he understood the order of protection, he responded "yes."
It was not immediately clear why the judge issued the protection order.
Acevedo's next court appearance is March 13. He faces a minimum of 15 years to life in prison if convicted on the more serious charges.
Acevedo arrived in New York on Thursday after agreeing to be returned from Pennsylvania, where he surrendered to police in the parking lot of a Bethlehem convenience store a day earlier.
At an appearance in Pennsylvania, Acevedo told Judge Kelly Banach that he finished the 11th grade, was unemployed and lives in Brooklyn with his mother.
His surrender was brokered by a friend who was in touch with police earlier Wednesday. The friend met officers at New York's Grand Central Terminal and led them to Acevedo in Bethlehem, about 80 miles away, police said.
Acevedo told the Daily News of New York that he was fleeing a gunman who was trying to shoot at him when his borrowed BMW slammed into the Glaubers' hired car. He told the newspaper he fled because he was worried he would be killed. But police said there were no reports of shots fired in the area at the time of the wreck.
The couple belonged to a close-knit ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, which is home to the largest community of ultra-Orthodox Jews outside Israel, more than 250,000. They were members of the Satmar Hasidic sect.