Teen in deadly Upper West Side crash pleads not guilty

June 19, 2013 1:39:58 PM PDT
The parents of a 4-year-old girl killed by a fleeing vehicle on the Upper West Side were in court Wednesday for the suspect's arraignment.

"Today, I had to face the person who killed my 4 year-old daughter," Sofia Russo said.

Unthinkable words for any mother to have to say and painful moments in court for the young man charged little Ariel Russo's death.

The courtroom was filled with grief and 17-year-old Franklin Reyes was cringing as the judge talked about the 2nd degree murder charge against him. Cringing because he knows he was driving the SUV without a license on the Upper West Side back on June 4, allegedly racing away from police while Ariel and her grandmother were innocently in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Adding to the tragedy is what happened when someone called 911.

"Somebody made a mistake. Somebody made a mistake that was handling that call," FDNY Commissioner Salvatore Cassano said.

There was a 911 call delay of more than 4 minutes. The fire commissioner maintains an EMS dispatcher failed to notice her screen. Ariel's family is now suing the city, but today also demanded that the district attorney investigate.

"Because if it's true that the dispatcher didn't do her job and if it's true that the result was the loss of my daughter's life, then that would certainly be, in my opinion, a criminal act," Russo said.

"The rank and file of the other side are saying, there's a problem with the system. The residents, the citizens of the city of New York deserve to know," Scott Rynecki, Russo family attorney, said.

"A lot of things went wrong on that day. As Ariel's mother, I need clarity and I demand justice. I will fight so that no other family has to go through what my family is going through," Russo said.

A bail hearing for Reyes was set for June 27.