CIVIC CENTER — The Navy veteran accused of killing an 18-year-old tourist and injuring more than 20 people during a road rampage in Times Square pleaded not guilty to murder and assault charges at his indictment Thursday.
Richard Rojas, 26, was indicted on two counts of murder in the second degree, 18 counts of attempted murder in the second degree, 20 counts of assault in the first degree and 18 counts of assault in the second degree, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office said Thursday.
Rojas, who appeared in court wearing a khaki jumpsuit and glasses, didn’t speak except to enter his plea after the charges were read.
On May 18, the Bronx resident jumped the curb in Times Square and drove along the sidewalk as part of a premeditated mission to kill — fatally striking 18-year-old Michigan resident Alyssa Elsman and leaving 22 people hurt, police and prosecutors said.
Rojas, who had two prior arrests for drunk driving, told prosecutors he had smoked marijuana laced with PCP prior to the incident, prosecutors aid previously.
Several relatives of Rojas’s victims sat in the courtroom to hear his plea Thursday and were rushed out by security without speaking following the proceedings.
One of his victims is still hospitalized, the DA’s office noted.
“The site of the rampage is one of the busiest in New York City: More than 300,000 pedestrians visit Times Square every day,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said in a statement. “My heart goes out to the victims, many of whom are in various states of recovery, and their families.”
Rojas, who is next expected to appear in court Oct. 24, is being held on Rikers Island, city Department of Corrections records show. Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Melissa Jackson on Thursday remanded his bail.
His attorney Enrico DeMarco declined to comment on the case after his court appearance.