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Woman pleads not guilty in hit-run of bicyclist

Janice Montalvo, 54, of Centereach, was arrested and

Janice Montalvo, 54, of Centereach, was arrested and charged with leaving the scene of an incident involving a fatality and with aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. (July 12, 2013) Credit: Stringer News Service; SCPD

A Centereach woman who prosecutors said "has a horrendous driving history" pleaded not guilty to killing a bicyclist in a hit-and-run car crash earlier this month.

Janice Montalvo, 54, was charged in the July 11 death of Bradford Packer, 51, of Port Jefferson Station, at First District Court in Central Islip Thursday.

At Thursday's hearing, Montalvo's bail was raised to $300,000 bond or $150,000 cash -- from $200,00 bond or $100,00 cash -- after prosecutors introduced her past convictions. Those include a hit-and-run and three instances of driving without a license since June 2011. Despite a plea from Montalvo's attorney that she had health problems not being addressed in jail, Judge Fernando Camacho raised the bail.

Montalvo is charged with leaving the scene of an incident involving a fatality and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.

"She has a horrendous driving history, having 10 suspensions on nine different dates," said Assistant District Attorney Patricia Brosco. "This defendant knew she was not allowed to drive."

Montalvo's husband was in the front seat as she drove his Hyundai to dinner that Thursday night, Brosco said. Around 9:15 p.m., Montalvo struck Packer, who was biking to a movie theater, at the intersection of Routes 112 and 347 in Terryville.

"Witnesses at the scene saw no braking, no change in her vehicle," Brosco said, adding that the car was traveling between 50 and 60 mph. "She kept going and she left Bradford Packer on the roadway for dead."

According to a statement Montalvo gave to police, she only stopped once on the way home, to buy soda at a convenience store.

Police found her the next morning trying to repair her damaged front bumper with duct tape. When police asked her what happened, Montalvo said she hit a dog.

Thursday, Montalvo's head drooped and she sobbed quietly as Brosco compared her reaction with those of others at the scene, who called 911 and tried to help Packer. Members of Packer's family lined a bench near the front of the courtroom. Montalvo did not turn to look at them.

Packer was a nurse and had a girlfriend. He loved music and movies, and always rode his bike, the family said.

"It's a shock. He had so much life and so much more to give to the world," his sister Stacey Rabinowitz, of Bellmore, said Thursday. "His life was cut short."

Montalvo pleaded not guilty and awaits a jury trial. If found guilty, she faces up to 7 years in prison.

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