Man pleads not guilty to murder over Saratoga County DWI

[anvplayer video=”5163992″ station=”998132″]

An accused intoxicated driver – who is also accused of murder – was in Saratoga County Court Tuesday morning.

Justin Rodriguez pleaded not guilty to killing Alex Bleickhardt last September while driving under the influence of drugs, and also had a loaded gun in his possession.

It’s rare when a drunken driving related death results in a murder charge, but prosecutors say this case is different.

The grand jury found that Justin Rodriguez acted with such wanton disregard for human life that a murder charge was warranted, Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen said.

Rodriguez’s BAC was more than three times the legal limit when he drove his pickup into Bleickhardt, said prosecutors.

Rodriguez was initially charged with manslaughter, but the investigation revealed so many other factors, said the district attorney, that demonstrated what the law refers to as a depraved indifference to human life.

That includes driving under the influence of drugs, at least three prior drunken driving convictions, driving with a loaded gun, and leaving the scene of another crash just minutes before.

Rodriguez pleaded not guilty to murder and 15 other counts on Tuesday.

Bleickhardt’s friends and family packed the courtroom, hoping that justice will be served.

Hear one of Bleickhardt friends talk about how much Bleickhardt cared about others by watching the video of Mark Mulholland’s story.