A Buffalo man and his girlfriend pleaded not guilty on Thursday to manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide related to the fatal beating of 39-year-old Jessica Garcia on the 800 block of Niagara Street in August.
Freddie Cortez, 22, and Michelis Romero, 24, were arraigned before Erie County Family Court Judge Kenneth F. Case. Cortez also pleaded not guilty to felony assault, a charge that alleged he pistol-whipped Garcia's brother to keep him from intervening in the Aug. 1 fight .
Garcia, who lived in the Marina Vista apartments on Hertel Avenue, was punched multiple times in the head and suffered a ruptured artery, according to county prosecutors. Garcia, the mother of three daughters, died two days later.