NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The man charged in a hit-and-run on Staten Island that left a 4-year-old boy dead and his mother and older sister injured pleaded not guilty Sunday, and denied he was behind the wheel.
Meanwhile, as CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reported, family and friends of the little boy who was killed gathered Sunday night at a wake to mourn him.
John Sanjurjo, 33, told the Staten Island Advance that police had the wrong suspect before the arraignment.
Sanjurjo pleaded not guilty to one count of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, and two counts of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in a serious injury. He made a $50,000 bail and was released from custody.
Defense attorney Anthony Caronna unsuccessfully attempted to get the case against Sanjurjo dismissed, arguing his client hadn’t been identified by witnesses in the Friday night accident.
Kyrillos Gendy, 4, of South Amboy, N.J., was crossing the street with his mother and sister when they were hit by a black Mercedes sedan with tinted windows, police said.
The driver had was pulling out of the bagel shop parking to head south on Richmond Road lot when he hit the family, police said. He pulled over and got out of his car to see the woman and children on the ground, and hopped right back into the car and drove off, police said.
Kyrillos was pronounced dead at Staten Island University Hospital. His 34-year-old mother – identified by the family as Arini Thomas – and 7-year-old sister – identified as Gabriella Gendy – were hospitalized with minor injuries.
At St. Mina Coptic Orthodox Church in Holmdel Township, N.J. Sunday evening, Kyrillos’ mother was present for the wake Sunday. But she was too injured to stand.
The service drew several hundred people to the service, where the boy’s father demonstrated moments of inconsolable crying and flashes of extreme anger.
Family members said they are worried the case is being mishandled, and are disappointed in Sanjurjo.
Meanwhile, the priest at the church remembered Kyrillos as a joyful and affectionate youngster. Known to everyone as Kyro, he would have started kindergarten next month at Sacred Heart School in South Amboy.
“He was full of life,” said the Rev. Abraham Wassef. “He was the most joyful little boy; very, very happy, always. He would always came running to myself and to Father Abram and give us a hug.”
The congregation was set to return to the church for a funeral set for 10:15 a.m. Separately, grand jury action will be taken on Sanjurjo’s case on Aug. 16.
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