Nicolas D. Guaman was indicted on a second-degree murder charge Friday in connection with the death of Matthew Denice, who was dragged for a quarter of a mile while trapped beneath a pickup truck operated by Guaman, according to a statement released by Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.
A Worcester County Grand Jury handed up indictments for second-degree murder, manslaughter while driving a motor vehicle, motor vehicle homicide, wanton or reckless behavior causing risk of serious bodily injury to a child, leaving the scene after a collision causing death, failing to stop for police and operating without a license, according to a press release.
Guaman, 34, who lived at 10 Cherry St., Milford, was arrested by Milford police following the Aug. 20 crash. A police investigation determined the pickup truck Guaman was driving struck a motorcycle operated by Denice, a 23-year-old resident of Debbie Lane.
After the collision at Congress and Fayette streets, Guaman continued driving despite witnesses banging on the driver’s door and attempting to alert him that Denice was trapped under the truck, Early stated. Police eventually stopped the truck on Lee Street.
Guaman, a citizen of Ecuador, is living in the U.S. illegally, according to police. Immediately following his arrest, the most serious charge he faced was motor vehicle homicide, operating under the influence of liquor. In its decision Friday, the grand jury handed up an indictment on more serious charges of second degree murder, and manslaughter while driving a motor vehicle, as well as a vehicular homicide charge.
If convicted of second-degree murder, the most significant charge, Guaman would face a maximum sentence of life in prison, but with the possibility of parole after 15 years, according to a spokesman for the Worcester District Attorney's Office. The maximum sentence for manslaughter while operating a motor vehicle is 20 years, for motor vehicle homicide is 15 years, and for leaving the scene of a collision causing death is 10 years, said the DA's spokesman, Tim Connolly.
Guaman initially was charged by Milford police with motor vehicle homicide, operating under the influence of liquor, as well as negligent operation, leaving the scene of personal injury and death, wanton or reckless conduct creating risk to a child, as well as other offenses.
The charge relating to the child was applied because Guaman's 6-year-old son was a passenger in the truck. The boy "popped up" from behind the front seat, police said, when officers were arresting his father.
In a statement Friday, Matthew Denice's family expressed relief at the indictments.
The statement read: "We believed from the beginning that what happened to Matthew was murder. Matthew was not simply hit by a car, he was maliciously killed by a man who never should have been behind the wheel of any car. We are relieved the Grand Jury saw the evidence as we did and we are grateful to prosecutors and law enforcement officials for their hard work in securing the toughest possible charges against Nicolas Guaman. We are confident that today's indictments will pave the way for justice for Matthew."
Guaman, 34, had been living in the United States for at least three years prior to his arrest in the Denice case, and he had been arrested before in several locations in the state, according to police and court records.
The most serious charge, in Milford, related to an alleged assault and battery in 2008 of several public employees, including a firefighter who was attempting to treat someone when Guaman intervened, according to Milford District Court records. That case was continued without a finding in May 2009, according to records, and charges were later dismissed. Guaman has also been arrested before on charges of operating a motor vehicle without a license.
An indictment is not an indication of guilt, rather it means a grand jury found sufficient evidence exists to move a case forward toward trial.
Guaman will be arraigned on the grand jury charges in Worcester Superior Court on Nov. 1. He is being held on $100,000 bail.
The investigation, by the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office and the Milford Police under the direction of Chief Thomas J. O’Loughlin, is continuing.
The grand jury indictment comes two days after U.S. Rep. Richard Neal (D-Springfield) requested a federal inquiry into how one of the witnesses to the sequence of events — who was being tracked with an electronic bracelet applied by Immigration and Customs Enforcement — was able to apparently flee the U.S.
The witness, Luis Acosta, who was in the truck with Guaman, had been wanted for testimony before the grand jury.
Denice, a 2006 graduate of Milford High School, was a recent graduate of Framingham State University, where he obtained a bachelor's degree in information technology. Shortly before his death, he had been hired for his first professional job. He was riding his motorcycle home when he was struck, police said.
His parents, Mike and Maureen Maloney, and his older brother, Michael Denice, 25, have called since his death for strengthened enforcement of immigration laws, as well as drunken driving prohibitions.