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CLEVELAND (WJW) — The man authorities allege intentionally crashed his car into a utility pole, killing a 7-year-old girl and injuring several others was handed a $1 million bond on Thursday.
Roderick Stewart, 29, pleaded not guilty Thursday morning to 23 indicted charges, including aggravated murder, aggravated vehicular homicide and felonious assault, court records show.
Cuyahoga County prosecutors said Stewart intentionally crashed a Buick Enclave carrying 14 passengers — 11 of whom were children younger than 12 — on Sept. 3 near the intersection of West 58th Street and Denison Avenue.
Prosecutors said Stewart started arguing with one of the passengers, then said, “Shut up before I crash this car.” He then swerved directly into the pole. Good Samaritans helped pull passengers from the car while Roderick fled on foot, prosecutors said.
A 7-year-old girl who was in the car, Dai’Nyla Wray, was pronounced dead at the hospital, prosecutors said.
U.S. Marshals arrested Stewart on Oct. 11, just one day after reward money for his apprehension was announced. He had been on the run for more than a month, according to marshals.
As a condition of his bond, he’s ordered against having contact with the victims’ families, court records show.
He’s due back in court for a pre-trial hearing on Nov. 6.