(Updates with not guilty pleas)
By DAVID JONES
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., June 11 A Georgia truck
driver pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges of vehicular
manslaughter and assault by auto in connection with a pileup on
a New Jersey highway that critically injured comedian Tracy
Morgan and killed another comic.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc delivery driver Kevin Roper, 35,
who was arraigned in New Brunswick, New Jersey, had not slept in
more than 24 hours when he triggered the fatal crash, according
Roper, dressed in a white shirt and dark pants, said little
during the brief court hearing, but answered: "Yes" when the
judge asked if he understood the charges.
His attorney, David Glassman, entered the pleas of not
Roper is accused of failing to see traffic slowing in front
of him on the New Jersey Turnpike and slamming into the back of
a limousine van carrying Morgan, best known for roles on "30
Rock" and "Saturday Night Live," and several of his associates.
The chain-reaction crash early on Saturday involved six
vehicles and left a passenger in the limo van, comedian James
"Jimmy Mack" McNair, dead.
Morgan and two other van passengers were critically injured
and remain hospitalized in New Jersey. A fourth limo passenger
was injured less severely.
Morgan's spokesman, Lewis Kay, said on Tuesday the
45-year-old entertainer "remains in critical but stable
condition," and was making a slow recovery from injuries
including a broken leg, nose and ribs.
Wal-Mart has promised to cooperate in the state and federal
investigation into the crash and said its drivers were among the
safest on the road.
Roper remains free on $50,000 bail. The judge did not
announce the next court date.
(Reporting by David Jones; Writing by Victoria Cavaliere;
Editing by Scott Malone, Sandra Maler and Peter Cooney)