Driver accused of manslaughter in Boyle Heights crash that killed 11-year-old pleads not guilty


A driver authorities say is responsible for a crash that killed an 11-year-old girl at a Boyle Heights taco stand in 2017 pleaded not guilty Wednesday to two felony counts.

Joe Louis Perez, 23, was charged with one felony count each of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence of a drug causing injury, along with allegations of causing great bodily injury.

He was allegedly under the influence of nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, on Nov. 10, 2017, as he maneuvered his Ford Mustang, speeding west down Whittier Boulevard in Boyle Heights.


At around 7 p.m., the Mustang allegedly crossed the center line and slammed into a parked Nissan Sentra in the 900 block of South Marietta Street. The force pushed the Sentra onto a curb where it careened into a group of people gathered at a taco stand.

The crash left Elektra Yepez dead and her mother and two aunts injured.

Authorities arrested Perez at the scene, but he was not immediately charged and was later released.

Perez was arrested again on Nov. 1, according to jail records, and released on bond.

If convicted, Perez faces up to 13 years and eight months in prison, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. He is scheduled to return to court Feb. 15.

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