Hearing rescheduled for manslaughter case

Published 2:44 pm Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The preliminary hearing for a 33-year-old Verbena man facing charges of manslaughter from a wreck that happened Christmas Day 2015 has been rescheduled for Feb. 2.

Luis Alberto Cruz, who lists an address off County Road 1041 in Verbena, was scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on Tuesday morning.

Court records indicate the preliminary hearing has been rescheduled for Feb. 2 at 9 a.m. before Chilton County District Judge Rhonda Hardesty.

Cruz faces three charges of manslaughter and one count of leaving the scene of an accident.

Cruz was driving a vehicle with a 40-year-old Clanton woman and three of her children when the vehicle they were traveling in left the roadway during heavy rain and entered a pond at about 2 a.m. Dec. 25.

The wreck happened at the intersection of County Road 54 and County Road 73.

The three victims were Maria Rocha-Gomez, 5-year-old Mariana Rocha-Gomez and 7-year-old Mariela Rocha-Gomez.

Another child occupant survived the crash, swam and attempted to find aid for his mother and siblings, authorities said at the time of the incident.

Cruz fled the scene but was apprehended in Clanton by Alabama State Troopers.

An attorney for Cruz filed a motion on Wednesday to reduce his bond of $600,000 according to court records.

The motion claims the amount for Cruz’ charges are “excessive and Cruz has no possible way of making them.”

The motion also claims that Cruz does not pose a “real and present danger to others, himself, or to the public at large if allowed to be released upon such terms and conditions as appear mete and appropriate in these premises.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, no motion had been filed regarding Cruz’ bond.