Man to plead guilty in 2016 drunk driving crash that killed 3

Carai Cortez was charged with reckless murder for the deaths of a woman, her son and her boyfriend.

Posted: Dec. 7, 2017 10:13 AM
Updated: Dec. 7, 2017 12:36 PM

A Huntsville man intends to plead in connection with a 2016 wreck that killed three people, including a young child.

Carai Cortez, 23, was scheduled to appear in Madison County Circuit Court Thursday morning for an arraignment on reckless murder charges. But Thursday his attorney filed a motion to continue the case Wednesday. In the motion, which was granted, Cortez's attorney said he intends to enter a plea in the case.

Cortez's attorney, Chad Morgan, said Cortez will plead guilty to all three counts in a blind plea. 

"He understands the gravity of this situation, so we're trying to save a little bit of his life if we can," Morgan said.

Cortez faces 10 to 99 years or life in prison with the possibility of parole on each count, Morgan said.

Police said Cortez was driving the wrong way on Interstate 565 in May 2016 when his vehicle crashed into an SUV, killing Alexa Hannig, 22, her son Hayden Martella, 3, and Benjamin Johnson, 21.

Hannig and Johnson were taking the child to a hospital emergency room when the wreck happened around 1:30 a.m. Police said Cortez was intoxicated at the time of the crash.

Cortez has been held without bond since December 2016, when prosecutors said he violated his bond conditions by drinking alcohol and leaving the state.

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