Not guilty pleas entered for alleged hit-and-run driver - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Not guilty pleas entered for alleged hit-and-run driver

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The man charged in connection with a fatal hit-and-run accident in Springfield over the weekend faced a judge on Monday morning.

Mark Perez, 25, is facing a variety of charges following a Saturday morning crash that killed 55-year-old Jeanne McLain.

"Jeanne was a very, very gentle very kind and very loving soul. And, she found laughter and joy in just about everything she did," said Anne Marie Smith a life-long friend of McLain's."I don't even know what to say. I'm at a loss for words. I really am at a loss for words."

Smith attended the arraignment Monday for the man police say is responsible.

"What we were looking for was some kind of shame or remorse for the loss of an innocent life as a result of his actions, I don't think we were satisfied," said Smith.

A not guilty plea was entered in court for the accused hit-and-run driver.

Among the charges Perez is facing are motor vehicle homicide while under the influence of drugs and reckless driving.

According to police, Perez was driving a stolen jeep Saturday morning when he was speeding and hit the passenger side of a Pontiac sedan.

The person in the passenger seat was McLain who died from her injuries shortly after the accident. The driver in that car was McLain's significant other, Dennis O'Connor, who suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

"He's not doing well. It's a lot like the men coming home from the war," said Smith. "He just is replaying this over and over and over again."

Smith says O'Connor and McLain had dated years ago while growing up in Hungry Hill and had gotten back together around a year ago.

"They really just fell immediately back in love as if no time even existed in between the time that they had separated before," said Smith.

The judge set bail at $250,000 cash and as Perez was escorted out of the courtroom several people could be heard yelling "we love you."

Large quantities of cocaine, marijuana and packaging materials commonly used by drug dealers were found in the home where Perez was found. Two other people were also arrested as a result on drug charges.

Perez is due back in court for a bind over hearing May 2.

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