New lawyer appointed for Mauricio Velasquez of Springfield, charged in Easthampton accident that killed two

Wednesday, April 09, 2014
NORTHAMPTON — Citing scheduling conflicts, a lawyer has withdrawn from the case of the Springfield motorist accused in a December accident in Easthampton that resulted in two deaths, including his daughter.

At a brief hearing Tuesday afternoon before Hampshire Superior Court Judge John Agostini, Jonah Goldsmith of the Committee for Public Counsel Services, who had represented Mauricio Velasquez, said new responsibilities at his office have forced him to cut back on his caseload.

Goldsmith’s extra workload comes after last month’s announcement that Thomas Estes will leave his position as attorney-in-charge of the Public Defender Division of CPCS to serve as a Northampton District Court judge.

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Attorney Marissa Elkins of Northampton accepted the new appointment to represent Velasquez, 32, who pleaded not guilty in Hampshire Superior Court to two counts each of negligent motor vehicle homicide while operating under the influence of alcohol, manslaughter by motor vehicle and manslaughter.

According to police and court records, about 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 7 Velasquez was speeding while behind the wheel of a van headed south on Hendrick Street in Easthampton when he lost control and hit a guardrail before crossing back into the northbound lane and slamming into a pickup truck driven by Charles Hoffman, 71.

Hoffman was killed, and his wife, Janice, 69, who was a passenger in the truck, was taken to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield for treatment of serious injuries.

Velasquez and a passenger, Milder Velasquez, 25, had to be extricated from the wreckage, according to court records. Three-year-old Diana Velasquez-Diaz was found not breathing on the floor of the van, according to court files. All three were also taken to Baystate, where the child was pronounced dead.

Velasquez, who appeared at Tuesday’s hearing, is being held on $100,000 cash bail or $1 million surety. He is due back in court for a pretrial hearing on June 4.

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@gazettenet.com.