MIAMI (WSVN) - The South Florida woman accused of hitting South Dade Senior High School principal Javier Perez while driving under the influence will stand trial after a Miami judge questioned her mental capacity to accept a plea deal, Friday.
7News cameras captured 52-year-old Marilyn Aguilera as she and her attorney arrived at Courtroom 4-8 of the Miami-Dade County Justice Building. Cameras also captured Perez as he sat in a wheelchair inside the courtroom next to his wife, Maytee Perez.
It was supposed to be the day Aguilera accepted responsibility for the April 26, 2016 crash that took the legs of the beloved principal.
But as she stood before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Diane Ward, the defendant broke down in tears. “You are charged with driving under the influence … causing serious bodily injury to Javier Perez. You understand that?” said Ward.
“Yes, Your Honor,” replied Aguilera.
“That’s a third-degree felony punishable by five years in prison. Do you understand that?” said Ward.
“Yes, Your Honor, I do,” replied Aguilera.
At the hearing, Aguilera informed the judge she is taking various medications. “My state of mind, ever since this accident, I haven’t had a good night’s sleep,” she said.
“Tell me what you took this morning,” said Ward.
“A Clindipine,” said Aguilera.
“For what purpose?” said Ward.
“That is to keep me relaxed,” replied Aguilera.
Aguilera also expressed concerns about her mother. “It’s just, I’m more concerned about Mom, who is wheelchair-bound as well,” she said.
Ward then made a connection with Perez. “Well, it seems like there’s many people that are now wheelchair-bound,” she said.
Aguilera’s conduct in court began to concern Ward. Several back-and-forth exchanges ensued revolving around the medication the defendant takes for anxiety and bipolar disorder.
Ward called for a recess shortly after. When the hearing resumed, the state pulled the plea deal.
“We do not believe that the defendant was taking these events seriously,” said state prosecutor Ed Griffith.
Friday’s turn of events come about a week after the state had expressed concerns about a delay in the deal.
Under the plea deal Aguilera had earlier accepted, she would have served four years in prison, followed by two years of community-controlled basic probation.
Aguilera had recently fired her previous attorney. Last week she got new legal representation.
Her new attorney, Ana Davide, said her client had an emotional breakdown. “I do not believe this was a delay tactic,” she said. “In retrospect, probably, I should have had her picked up at 6 a.m. by my investigator and brought to my office, but unfortunately, because of the lack of time, maybe I didn’t do this correctly. Maybe it was too much for her emotionally.”
Police said Aguilera plowed into Perez during his son’s little league game at Tamiami Park, on April 26, 2016. Officials said the driver crashed through a fence and pinned the principal underneath her SUV.
Investigators said Aguilera’s blood alcohol level was three times over the legal limit at the time of the crash.
The state wished to go under the guidelines for her charge because Perez said he desperately wants closure in this case.
The trial has been set to begin Dec. 11. If Aguilera is convicted, she faces a sentence of seven years in prison.
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