On Thursday, Wilson Murillo came to Suffolk County Supreme Court wearing a thin gold chain around his neck. Hanging on it was the gold wedding band that Yuris Murillo Cruz, his wife, had worn before she died following a hit-and-run accident on Montauk Highway in Amagansett on Jan. 13.
Mr. Murillo and several family members and friends were there to watch as the Suffolk County District Attorney's office unsealed a two-count indictment against Mark A. Corrado, the 28-year-old West Babylon man accused of striking Ms. Murillo Cruz and her two children in a borrowed pickup truck and then fleeing the scene of the accident that day.
Mr. Corrado, who is being represented by Legal Aid, pleaded not guilty to two felonies before Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice John B. Collins. He is charged with leaving the scene of an accident without reporting and with tampering with physical evidence. Court officials said there is another leaving-the-scene charge against Mr. Corrado pending.
Justice Collins imposed supervised release for Mr. Corrado, including monitoring for alcohol and narcotics use, a 9 p.m. curfew, and an order that he not leave New York State. His driver's license has been suspended since the day after he turned himself in to police.
Through a family friend, Angelica Marta, who acts as a translator, Mr. Murillo said he wants justice to be served. "He ran over them like rag dolls and left them there."
Ms. Marta said Mr. Murillo's youngest child, Josue Gael, 2, has come down with pneumonia as a result of the weakened condition of his lungs from injuries he sustained in the accident. His 4-year-old daughter, Michelle, has become even shier than she was before. Because he is caring for his children alone, Mr. Murillo is only able to work one or two hours per day. "He's sort of trying to get back to normal," Ms. Marta said. "The children don't want to stay with anyone else."
Efforts are under way to obtain visas for Mr. Murillo's two older children, Fernanda Murillo and Wilson Murillo Jr., who live in Ecuador, so they can come to the United States and help him care for Josue Gael and Michelle.
Mr. Murilllo is also trying to find a new place for his family to live. Currently they live in a single large bedroom they rent in a house in Amagansett.
On the afternoon of Wednesday, Jan. 13, Mr. Corrado said in a statement to East Hampton Town Police that he was driving east in a red pickup truck on Montauk Highway near T&B Auto Service in Amagansett when a plastic water bottle rolled onto the floor under his feet. He told police he tried to retrieve it so it wouldn't roll beneath the pedals, but when he did so, he felt the truck hit something.
He did not stop until he abandoned the pickup truck in the dunes on Gilbert's Path. A manhunt ensued in which local, county, and state police, with a K-9 unit on the ground and a helicopter in the air, searched for Mr. Corrado. He hid beneath a tree while waiting for an Uber to pick him up and take him home, but not before taking the plates off the truck and removing other identifying information -- which led to the tampering charge.
Mr. Corrado later turned himself in, about two and a half hours after the accident occurred, at the first precinct police station in West Babylon.
On Thursday, Mr. Corrado sat by himself while waiting for Justice Collins to hear the case. He has not communicated with the Murillo family, Ms. Marta said. Neither he nor his Legal Aid attorney responded to questions from a reporter after he emerged from the courtroom, where members of the media had not been permitted because of Covid-19-related capacity restrictions.
If convicted of the top count of leaving the scene, Mr. Corrado faces two and one third to seven years in prison. He is due back in court on May 6.
Through his longtime friend Ms. Marta, Mr. Murillo said he doesn't wish harm to anybody, but reiterated that he wants justice. "They weren't objects. They were real people."