Despite testimony that authorities consider Robert Corchado a "severe threat" to flee the country, a judge on Monday declined to raise the bond of the man accused in the KinderCare crash that killed a 4-year-old girl last week.
Orange County Senior Judge Thomas Kirkland ruled Corchado's bail will remain at $100,000. If he's able to post that amount, he will not be allowed to leave Orange and Seminole counties, or to drive while the case is pending.However, Corchado won’t be getting out yet: A Seminole County circuit judge last week revoked his bond on drug charges in another case, stemming from a separate suspected hit-and-run in December.
Prosecutor Lisa Gong Guerrero argued to increase Corchado's bail to $250,000. He's a flight risk, she said, noting that Corchado was at large for 24 hours before turning himself in, and rented an SUV during that span.
"What are you going to rent a car for, but to flee?" she said.
The state called Florida Highway Patrol Cpl. Brian Gensler, a traffic homicide investigator who said his agency viewed Corchado as "a severe threat to flee the country."
Authorities received a tip, he said, that Corchado had planned to go to Miami, then flee from there to Puerto Rico and, ultimately, to South America. He also has ties through family to New York and Michigan, Gensler said.
Gensler described the crash for the judge: Corchado, he said, "did not slow down and rear-ended" a Toyota Solara, "projecting that vehicle forward into" Goldenrod Road KinderCare day-care center.
"It was a good amount of force," Gensler said.
During the hearing, the prosecutor revealed that Corchado may face up to life in prison on the first-degree felony charge he faces in the KinderCare crash, due to a sentencing enhancement for habitual felony offenders.
Corchado's defense attorney, Daniel Tumarkin, argued for a much lower bond: $7,500. The defense lawyer argued the state's case is weak, and his client's alleged ties other states or countries, even weaker.
"I was four when my dad died and we moved to Florida," testified Corchado, a 28-year-old native of New York.
Corchado told Kirkland he has a mother, two brothers, a wife and three children — a 9-month-old, a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old — in the Winter Park area. He said he would live with his mother if granted release on bond.
"I turned myself in as soon as the bondsman came to get me," Corchado said.
On cross-examination, he acknowledged that he personally made no effort to contact authorities in his 24 hours as a wanted man: "I guess not, ma'am," he said.
Corchado has been in jail since turning himself in on Thursday, amid a manhunt which began soon after authorities say a Dodge Durango he was driving hit a Toyota Solara, which drove into Goldenrod Road KinderCare.
More than a dozen people, all but one of them children, were hospitalized and 4-year-old Lily Quintus was killed.
Tumarkin assailed the state's case, arguing prosecutors "at best have circumstantial evidence" that Corchado was driving the SUV, and have little evidence its driver knew, or should have known, the crash had caused a death.
"The other car spun out and had minor, I repeat minor… damage to the rear end," Tumarkin said, echoing Gensler.
Corchado is no flight risk, Tumarkin said: "On the contrary, he turned himself in to the Orange County Jail." Kirkland denied both the state's motion to raise the bond, and the defense's request to lower it.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-5171