An Othello man pleaded innocent Tuesday to allegations he was drunk when he crashed a van full of kids, killing a 12-year-old boy.
Celerino Leon Martinez, 48, faces a Sept. 9 trial in Franklin County Superior Court on one felony count of vehicular homicide.
He has been in jail on $100,000 bail since the June 16 rollover on Road 170 near Ringold.
Leon Martinez initially was charged in Franklin County District Court, which Prosecutor Shawn Sant said was done while his office waited for more information. The case then was filed Friday in Superior Court.
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Leon Martinez’s investigative hold included vehicular assault, DUI and three counts of reckless endangerment. However, he has not been charged with those crimes.
Documents have his name as Martinez-Leon. However, during one of his initial court appearances, he signed a form as Leon Martinez.
He reportedly was driving from Othello to work in Pasco when he tried to pass a Saturn in a no-passing zone and ended up smashing into the car as it started to turn left at an intersection.
Josue Cruz was thrown from the Ford van as it rolled several times. He died at the scene.
Leon Martinez told Franklin County sheriff’s Detective Jason Nunez that he lost control of the van while trying to pass, said court documents.
Deputies and Washington State Patrol troopers who responded to the scene found an empty Budweiser can near the van, along with a cooler of ice and full cans of beer and soda, documents show.
Leon Martinez and the four other passengers were taken to Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland for treatment.
A 17-year-old girl suffered a broken right leg. A 15-year-old girl, 16-year-old boy and 17-year-old boy had minor injuries.
Leon Martinez admitted drinking two 12-ounce beers the evening before the 5:20 a.m. crash. When interviewed at the hospital, he had a strong odor of intoxicants on his breath and “choppy movements in his eyes,” Nunez noted in court documents.
His blood was drawn at the hospital to be tested by a state crime lab.
Prosecutors have said Leon Martinez’s criminal history includes two DUIs, a first-degree negligent driving reduced from DUI, reckless driving false identification and taking a vehicle without permission.
He reportedly was deported in 2008 and at some point returned to the United States.