Until John Peder Harris was asked how he plead, he stood mostly silent, completely still, with his hands folded Wednesday during his arraignment in front of Judge Clare Maier at Contra Costa County's Superior Court in Martinez.
"Not guilty," he said, barely audible.
Harris, 32, of Walnut Creek, is being charged with two counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence for his role in a in Danville that left a mother and daughter dead.
The collision took place at Sycamore Valley Road and Brookside Drive.
According to Danville Police, Harris was driving a Toyota 4-Runner, traveling westbound on Sycamore Valley Road. Authorities say Harris ran the red light at the intersection and struck a southbound Dodge Durango.
Elham Pirdavari, 51, of Danville, was driving the vehicle and her mother, Mahin Dowlati, 72, also of Danville, was in the passenger seat. Both women were killed in the accident. A memorial for the two victims is still set up at the northwest corner of the intersection.
Harris is due in Martinez's courthouse again on April 12 at 8:30 a.m. Contra Costa Deputy District Attorney Alison Chandler said that a trial date could be set at that time.
The court hearings follow a lengthy investigation by Danville Police, which resulted in , that the Walnut Creek man had a medical condition.
That medical condition, Chandler said, was a seizure disorder.
Due to the medical information in the transcripts and the evidence, the grand jury sealed the documents, Chandler said.
As a result, Harris' defense attorney has yet to see any of it, she said.
"(The defense) doesn't know what's (in the transcripts), doesn't know the evidence against him," she said.
Whether the seizure disorder had something to do with the collision is still in question. Chandler said there are three factors that lead to the Nov. 7 collision.
"The factors include running a red light, speeding and a seizure disorder," .
Chandler said Harris was going at least 62 mph when the cars collided. She added that Harris' license was valid and there were no restrictions placed on it.
Danville Police Chief Steve Simpkins said the department's investigation showed no extraneous factors, such as texting, cell phone use or alcohol use, were involved in the accident.
“We believe this accident was caused by a negligent decision to drive, which resulted in tragedy,” Simpkins said.
If convicted of these two charges, Harris could face up to seven years and four months in prison. Chandler said the counts could not be merged into each other and Harris would have to serve time for each charges individually.
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