Marissa Perlman


SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A grieving family was in court Tuesday, facing the man believed to be behind the wheel when he hit a pregnant Rio Linda woman.

On Friday, Ronnie Ward walked through the doors to the county building to turn himself in for the fatal crash in Rio Linda that hurt Ciara Villegas and took her son’s life.

Ronnie Ward in court, Tuesday, April 23.

Ward will stay locked up there until his next court date, as the Villegas family fights to keep him there for good.

“The man was standing seven feet in front of me, who killed my grandson and hurt my daughter very badly…” said Villegas’ mother, Latisha Straniese.

Ward appeared for his first felony arraignment for DUI, Tuesday. He’s charged with driving drunk in Rio Linda earlier this month, hitting and severely injuring Villegas, who was six months pregnant at the time.

READ ALSO: Driver Accused Of Hitting Pregnant Woman Had Blood Alcohol Content More Than 3 Times Legal Limit

Her son, RJ, was delivered by emergency C-section and died two days later.

“My family is very broken right now. We will never be repaired. He’s killed my grandson, he’s messed my daughter’s life up,” Straniese said.

Family members held up a photo of the newborn in court. They say seeing Ward in person, even in police custody, wasn’t easy.

It was horrible, it made me sick to my stomach,” said Straniese.

Outside of the courtroom, family members sent a message, standing alongside representatives with “Mothers Against Drunk Driving.”

ALSO: DUI Suspect Who Hit A Pregnant Woman Surrenders To Deputies

“Don’t drink and drive,” said Straniese.

The District Attorney’s Office says Ward won’t be facing murder charges, but family members said they plan to fight to change that.

“He murdered my grandson. My grandson was born alive. He had a birth certificate, he had a death certificate, he was a human. He was not a fetus, he was a baby,” said Straniese.

Ward will stay locked up until his next court appearance in June unless he can pay the $1 million in bail that was set Tuesday.

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