A Campbell woman on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to mowing down her best friend and killing her after a June night of allegedly heavy drinking.
Elsie De La Rosa, 23, of San Jose, is accused of running over Sally Hernandez, also 23, of Santa Clara, and fleeing the scene, according to police. Hernandez's death marked the city's first homicide in two years.
Both women were childhood friends, and family members said they were stunned by the tragic turn of events. Hernandez’s parents were in court Wednesday, wearing T-shirts and sweatshirts adorned with her face. Hernandez’s mother Rachel Correa, who said the two women knew each other their entire lives, also sported a new tattoo in memory of her child.
“These girls were born two weeks apart,” Correa said. “They've literally known each other their entire lives ... It’s heartbreaking.”
De La Rosa pleaded not guilty to one count of murder in the death of a woman who was a familiar face in San Jose’s lowrider community. Even so, Sally Hernandez’s father, Benjamin Hernandez, said he is grateful the case is moving forward.
“I miss her so much,” he said. “And I just hope she gets her justice that and everything comes out.”
Hernandez and De La Rosa traveled to the Campbell neighborhood in the same car on June 27 and got into a fight, which prosecutors believe was fueled by alcohol.
Hernandez somehow ended up outside the vehicle at Leigh Avenue and Montemar Way. Police say De La Rosa intentionally rammed into her friend and left her lying there.
Campbell police responded to a report of an accident involving a car and a pedestrian around 7:15 a.m. Another person called 911 to report a disturbance at the same spot, police said.
Responding officers found a severely wounded woman on the road. Hernandez was taken to Valley Medical Center where she died, according to police.
Witnesses told police that they saw a woman fleeing the scene behind the wheel of a gray four-door car.
Police were able to locate and arrest De La Rosa near MacArthur Avenue and Pfeffer Lane around 11:50 a.m. on June 28 because she had been contacting local hospitals, looking for her friend. In a chilling twist, investigators said that De La Rosa called Hernandez's father and told him that she hit Hernandez with her car but couldn't remember where the collision happened.
De La Rosa, who at the time of her arrest was driving around in the same car she allegedly used to run Hernandez down, was booked into the Elmwood Correctional Facility.
Investigators also revealed that two men were with the women Tuesday night. One of the men is De La Rosa's boyfriend, and the other is her brother. Both ran from the scene.
Benjamin Hernandez assigned blame to the men for not reporting the collision to police.
De La Rosa will be back in court in February for a preliminary hearing
NBC Bay Area's Sergio Quintana and Bob Redell contributed to this report.