Melvin Branch, 30, appeared in front of a judge for the first time on Monday, facing vehicular manslaughter charges.
He is accused of driving while intoxicated and causing a four-car crash east of Valley View. Payton Castillo and her mother, 33-year-old Jolene Gardner, and a third person were in a pickup truck that overturned in the pileup. The girl died at the scene, the CHP said. Gardner was pronounced dead at UC Irvine Medical Center.
Branch's attorney, Mark Fredrick, entered a not-guilty plea for his client.
After officers arrested Branch at the scene, the Orange County District Attorney rejected the case for insufficient evidence. He was re-arrested and charged over the weekend after prosecutors reviewed new reports.
Fredrick said Branch turned himself in.
"He's expressed nothing but total grief and sadness for the family and the tragic loss of life in this case," he said.
In a criminal complaint, officers report Branch had a blood-alcohol level of .11.
"Those can really have problems with their accuracy so at this point, I don't have confidence with what the alleged blood alcohol result is," Fredrick said.
Fredrick wants to see the report and the results of a blood test. He said this is out of character for Branch, whose bail was set at $300,000.
"He's a person who's never been in trouble before. He is a person who was shocked and surprised by his treatment on the night of the incident, and he was extremely scared," Fredrick added.
If convicted, Branch faces a maximum of 20 years and eight months in prison. He's due back in court Jan. 25.
A GoFundMe page has been created to help pay for the victims' funeral services.