The woman at the center of a hit-and-run rampage in San Francisco last week pleaded not guilty to multiple charges in court Monday.
Cherry Neal, 25, allegedly was trying to run from police in the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood Thursday and slammed into multiple vehicles and pedestrians, leaving one man in a coma and several others injured, in a rampage that spanned several city blocks, police said.
On Monday, Neal stood with her hands folded behind her back and pleaded not guilty to 18 felonies and misdemeanors.
The sequence of events started with Neal allegedly evading officers along Eddy Street, jumping a curb and crashing into scaffolding on a sidewalk and pinning a pedestrian in the process. It ended several blocks later with Neal's arrest and a path of destruction in her wake.
Neal’s attorney said he’s not familiar with all the facts of the case yet but added Neal has medical issues.
"She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, depression and a slew of other disorders, which she suffered from since being a teenager," public defender Eric McBurney said. "And I know she has been off her medication for quite some time."
But prosecutor Max Szabo says the defendant’s criminal history plus the nature of the alleged crimes was enough to keep the mother of three held without bail.
"It wasn’t, as the court pointed out, a simple fender bender," Szabo said. "It was a multitude of individuals who were injured, some very seriously."
According to court documents, Neal fled at "reckless speeds," driving east on Eddy Street and colliding with a second pedestrian who was crossing at Taylor, "sending his body flying through the air like a rag doll."
That man had to be induced into a coma, though fortunately there’s good news for the victim.
"One of them did suffer a severe traumatic brain injury, and we just recently learned, however, that they have come out of the coma, so we’re very happy to hear that," Szabo said.
Four people were injured in all.
Neal told her lawyer she’d been off her medications for a month, though the police report indicates she was likely under the influence of a "combination" of depressant medications.
Neal is scheduled to return to court in just over a week.