Driver pleads not guilty in Hacienda Heights crash that killed young couple

EL MONTE, Calif. (KABC) -- Nearly a year after two high school sweethearts were killed in a freak accident in Hacienda Heights, the driver who authorities say sparked the crash entered a plea of not guilty.

Key Kim, 68, pleaded not guilty to two counts of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter. He was charged earlier in the week.

MORE: 2 dead, 2 injured in Hacienda Heights car crash

Authorities say Kim's speeding Lexus lost control while exiting the 60 Freeway at 7th Avenue. The car went airborne and slammed into a Toyota truck, shearing it in half last October.

George A. Steward and his high school sweetheart Sabrina D. Castillo, both 18 and recent graduates of Los Altos High School, were in the truck at the time of the crash. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.

It was an emotional day in court, as the teens' parents faced Kim for the very first time.

"To see him and his family, and our kids are not here to live their life like they should, it's just unfair," said Edra Silva, mother of one of the victims.

Cameras were not allowed inside the courtroom. Outside of court, Kim and his attorney expressed their sorrow over what happened.

MORE: Young couple killed in Hacienda Heights crash mourned at vigil

"Mr. Kim is terribly sorry for the tragedy that the Castillos, who are family, has suffered," said defense attorney Louis Shapiro.

Shapiro said Kim's vehicle was defective and accelerated uncontrollably, causing the crash.

"We all want the truth to come out. This is going to be a third-party culpability case, and Toyota and Lexus, we plan on them being brought in and for the right outcome to happen for everybody," Shapiro said.

Toyota has made it clear it is working with investigators. Family members don't believe the car was to blame.

"There was no indication within the data that that's the case. He looks like he might have had some issues with the vehicle, but the report doesn't indicate, really to me, that it was the vehicle's fault," said George Steward, father of George A Steward.

As difficult as the arraignment was, the parents of George and Sabrina are now ready to see justice served.

While Kim did plead not guilty, the judge still required him to post bail at $50,000. The judge also required him to turn in his California driver's license. He is expected to be back in court on Nov. 3.
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