Hit-and-run suspect faces judge

By Mehgaan Jones


The suspect in the hit-and-run crash that severely injured a child on Sunday appeared in Clayton County Magistrate court, Wednesday, for a first appearance hearing.

Magistrate Judge Bobby Simmons read Avelardo Franquez, 34, the charges against him, which include failure to stop and render aid -- a felony. The judge also listed misdemeanor charges of failure to make an accident report, following too closely, speeding, and driving with a suspended license.

Simmons denied bond, but added that a bond would be considered at a preliminary hearing, on Sept. 16th, at 3 p.m. Franquez stated, through an interpreter, that he will hire his own attorney to represent him at that hearing.

Franquez is accused of rear-ending a car at the intersection of Jonesboro Road and Southlake Plaza Drive on Sunday, and leaving the accident, according to police. The crash left Damian Dennis, 7, in critical condition. He has since been upgraded to stable, according to Captain James Callaway, of the Morrow Police Department. Dennis has been taken out of intensive care, and placed in a traditional hospital room, he added.

Callaway said that, on Tuesday night, Franquez turned himself in to authorities.

Detectives received information that Franquez was in the lobby of the Clayton County Jail, and he was taken into custody as he was walking out of the jail, according to Callaway.

"I don't know if he got cold feet, or what, but he was taken into custody by our detectives as he was walking out of the lobby area [of the jail]," said Callaway.

Franquez was transported to the Morrow police station, where he was questioned, according to Callaway. He said that Morrow police took saliva samples to compare to DNA from Franquez's vehicle.

In addition, two other arrests were made in the case. According to a written statement released by the Morrow Police Department, Angel Alvardo Mendieta was charged with obstructing a law enforcement officer, tampering with evidence, hindering apprehension, false statements to law enforcement and two counts of forgery in the second degree.

The statement also said that Christina Vazquez-Alvarado was charged with driving while unlicensed and five counts of forgery in the second degree.

Authorities said that, during the search of a Forest Park home where Franquez lived from time to time, several documents were found, including a citation issued by the City of Atlanta, under the name of Dimas Frarquez.

Avelardo Franquez goes by several names, including Alvelaro Franquez, Dimas Franquez and Dimas Frarquez, police said in the statement. According to the media advisory, Franquez has had several charges, in Atlanta, of driving unlicensed, open containers, and improper lane changes.

The statement added that Franquez has a history of family violence charges, cruelty to children, and simple assault charges out of Henry County and Atlanta.