OLATHE, Kan. -- A man accused of running a red light at 75th and Metcalf on Sunday, causing a three-car crash that killed a pregnant woman and injured two others, appeared in court on Tuesday afternoon. Raphael Sherman, 21, is charged with involuntary manslaughter for the crash that killed 25-year-old Denisse Lopez.
Sherman also faces two counts of reckless aggravated battery for the injuries two others suffered in the crash.
Lopez was 39 weeks pregnant, but doctors were able to save her baby.
Johnson County District Attorney Stephen Howe said Prairie Village police tried to stop Sherman for a traffic violation, but he sped away five seconds before the fatal crash .
Howe said the choice Sherman and others in his situation make to avoid minor traffic violations often result in serious consequences for victims, and serious ramifications for themselves, too.
“If they did get in trouble by law enforcement they would be minimal misdemeanor type offenses, instead they go ahead and do these high-speed runs and they end up killing someone or maiming these individuals,” Howe said.
According to an affidavit, Sherman was driving without a valid driver's license and had a stolen, loaded handgun in the car. When he was taken to a hospital he told medical staff that he had smoked marijuana, which he later told police had happened in the late morning hours. Police interviewed him at the hospital, and he said he did not recall the traffic stop and said he had found the gun in some grass and did not know it was stolen.
Lopez`s family declined to talk on Tuesday. On Wednesday, they released the following statement, along with the Madero family (the baby's father's family):
On behalf of the Ramos and Madero families, we wish to thank everyone involved in the care of Denisse and her newborn baby. From First Responders, police, hospital staff and others, we are grateful that we have a baby, which is a true miracle from God. While we will miss Denisse every day, she is a hero for giving our families a baby, even as she suffered traumatic injuries. We wish to thank everyone for their love, prayers and support throughout this tragic time in our lives. We ask for your continued prayers, support and privacy as we adjust to our lives without her.
Sherman`s mother attended her son`s first court appearance, but did not want to speak to reporters.
A 5-year-old girl remains in the hospital. Her father says she`s being treated for cuts from the glass.
If convicted of the charges, Sherman could face between three and 10 years in prison for the felonies. Sherman remains in jail on a $250,000 bond and is due back in court on January 21 for a hearing.