Woman accused in Hwy 99 crash pleads not guilty

FRESNO, Calif.

The crash killed 24-year-old Regan Johnson, who was working as a flagger on a highway project last Wednesday.

The woman accused of running her over has pleaded "not guilty" to the charges against her.

This was the first time the 26-year-old woman has appeared in court. Alyssa Villanueva cried throughout her entire arraignment. Her attorney says she feels horrible.

Villanueva hid behind her attorney, shielding her face from the media. She's charged with 6 counts including murder, vehicular manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident and DUI.

"She's devastated. She's very devastated. As one would expect this is nothing she would have thought she'd find herself in, this type of situation," Martin Taleisnik, Villanueva's defense attorney, said.

Police say 24-year-old Regan Johnson was adjusting cones when Villanueva drove through the construction zone. Johnson died at the scene.

"Yes, it's tragic for both sides and I know she is very sorry. Our condolences go out to the Johnson family," Taleisnik said.

At a vigil last week, Regan's family says she dreamed of being a teacher, but those plans were put aside when she decided to help her mom run the family grocery business in Big Creek.

Taleisnik says his client works two jobs and supports 3 kids. While he didn't want to address why police say his client didn't stop after the accident, he did say: "She's been as cooperative as she's feels she's been and can be and she understands the family is grieving and feels horrible that she played a part to some extent."

Taleisnik is working to get Villanueva's $1.219 million bond reduced, and working to figure out what legal battle his client is facing.

"The question really becomes legally what type of blame is there to be what type of charge would she be theoretically be convicted of," Taleisnik said.

Villanueva will be back in court in about a month. Funeral services for Regan Johnson are set for Wednesday at the Kingsburg Cemetery.

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