The driver of a truck that plowed into a bus carrying comedian Tracy Morgan pleaded not guilty during his arraignment Wednesday amid accusations he had not slept for 24 hours before the crash.
Kevin Roper did not say much during his arraignment before Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Bradley Ferencz in New Jersey.
“Let me just give you a caution, sir,” the judge told the defendant. “You make sure your lawyer knows exactly where you are. You go anywhere, you drive anywhere, you go across country somewhere else, you need to be in contact. You understand that?”
“Yes sir,” Roper responded.
Prosecutors charged him with vehicular homicide and assault by auto in the Saturday pileup that killed comedian James McNair and injured Morgan and three others in the limo bus on the New Jersey Turnpike.
“We enter a not guilty plea across the board obviously — the fatality and the remaining counts of assault by auto,” defense lawyer David Glassman told the court.
Morgan, a former cast member of “Saturday Night Live” and the comedy series “30 Rock,” remains in critical but stable condition. Comedian Ardie Fuqua, Jeffrey Millea and Harris Stanton were also injured; Stanton is the only one who has been released from the hospital.
Shortly after the accident on the New Jersey Turnpike, Roper, who drives a Walmart truck, posted $50,000 bond and was released the same night. The bail was kept the same.
In the criminal complaint, police said Roper had been awake for more than 24 hours at the time of the crash. He failed to notice traffic slowing in front of him and hit Morgan’s bus despite trying to swerve out of the way, according to authorities.
It’s unclear how they determined the trucker was sleep-deprived.
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