The driver accused of killing three members of a Payson family in a July 24 accident on Beeline Highway has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and aggravated assault charges.
Rigoberto C. Arrazola, 31, entered the plea Aug. 15 to three counts of manslaughter and two counts of aggravated assault at his arraignment held in Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix.
Also at the arraignment, an initial pretrial conference was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Sept. 22, in Superior Court. At that time, the prosecution and defense will discuss the work to be done prior to trial and possibly set a trial date, said Bill Fitzgerald, Maricopa County attorney public relations officer.
"At the very least another pretrial conference date would be set," he said.
Arrazola is being held on $180,000 bond in Maricopa County Lower Buckeye jail. The charges against him are class-2 felonies punishable by 21 to 35 years imprisonment on each count.
A few days earlier, Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas announced a campaign to make violent criminals stand trial. His new policy cited 12 violet crimes for which defendants will not be allowed to plead guilty to lesser offenses. Arrazola's charges -- manslaughter and aggravated assault with a weapon-- are among Thomas' "Violent Crime -- Hard Time" plan.
Under Thomas' administration, those charges are ineligible for plea bargaining.
According to Department of Public Safety reports, Arrazola failed to yield to oncoming traffic and drove into the northbound lanes of Beeline Highway, July 24, clipping a sport utility vehicle driven by David M. Goddard, 39, of Payson.
Goddard's SUV skidded into the median and overturned several times.
His wife Pernilla Pallin-Goddard, 39, and stepson Simon Berglund, 14, were killed instantly.
Son William Goddard, 13, was transported to St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix where he died hours later.
Goddard and his daughter, Alexandrea, 12, were taken to Maricopa Medical center in Phoenix and later discharged.
DPS officers obtained a search warrant to test Arrazola's blood, but the results of those tests are not yet available, said DPS officer Frank Valenzuela.
Goddard, who moved to the Rim Country from Colorado in June, said earlier this week he plans to remain in Payson.
Goddard also said he harbors no feelings about Arrazola and will let the justice system take its course.