Father of three children killed in crash arraigned
MADERA COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- A stunning twist in the case of a North Valley man once accused of being under the influence during a crash that killed his three children.
The defense attorney for Aref Mohamed now says tests prove he did not have drugs or alcohol in his system. The 34-year-old appeared in court for the first time since the district attorney charged him with multiple felonies.
Action News spoke with Aref Mohamed briefly Thursday. We also spoke with his attorney, who says the father of six did not make the mistakes he's been accused of. But at this point prosecutors are letting the charges speak for themselves.
Aref Mohamed walked quietly into the Madera County courtroom to be arraigned on six felony counts. Cameras were not allowed inside, but after the hearing the 34-year-old did stop to speak with Action News momentarily.
"Is there anything that you want people to know?"
"No thank you."
He also said he's doing "okay" despite being charged with manslaughter in the deaths of his twin 6-year-old sons and his 3-year-old daughter. They were killed in a car crash near Firebaugh in March that also injured three people in the other vehicle involved. The Highway Patrol said Mohamed was wearing a seatbelt when he swerved into the wrong lane, but his children were not. Officers also suspected he was under the influence of a controlled substance, something his attorney now denies.
Defense Attorney, Roger Vehrs said, "There's been very extensive blood testing done, and there was no alcohol, no drugs, no nothing in his system."
Vehrs says the weather was bad at the time of the crash, and Mohamed hit a patch of mud that caused him to overcorrect and then lose control of his van. Vehrs says his client is very religious and has close friends who are helping him cope with the loss of his children.
"He's emotionally hanging together, but it's still tough. He got death threats from people, the internet, and just crazy stuff happening in the community," said Vehrs.
The district attorney could not comment on any specifics of the case, including the issue of whether Mohamed was driving under the influence at the time of the crash.
Madera County District Attorney, Michael Keitz said, "All I can say is after careful review of the facts and circumstances of this case, we went ahead and charged the gross vehicular manslaughter, 3 counts and also the child endangerment 3 counts."
Mohamed's defense attorney says he had been taking his kids to dentist appointments the day of the crash and that he had just bought them lunch, which they were eating in the back seat of the van.
He says Mohamed just did not realize his children were not wearing seatbelts. He's due back in court at the end of June.
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