Driver in fatal head-on crash pleads not guilty

A Laguna Beach man who allegedly hit another car head-on, killing two men last April, pleaded not guilty to all charges Monday at his arraignment inside Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach.

In November the Orange County district attorney's office charged Robert McFarland Pettis, 48, with two felony counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and one felony count of driving the wrong way on a divided highway causing death, adding sentencing enhancements for inflicting great bodily harm.

Pettis is accused of driving his Tesla Model S at a high-rate of speed while going north on Laguna Canyon Road about 6:40 a.m. April 2.

He is believed to have crossed the double yellow lines into the southbound lanes, leading to a collision with a Honda Accord that killed the driver, 47-year-old Anaheim resident Alberto Casique, and its passenger, Armando Gonzalez, 38, of Santa Ana, the district attorney's office said.

Authorities pronounced both men dead at the scene.

Alcohol was not a factor in this collision, according to district attorney spokeswoman Farrah Emami.

Pettis has posted $100,000 in bond and is due in court for a pre-trial hearing March 13.

If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of nine years and eight months in state prison, according to the district attorney.

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