Dharmesh Patel, who has been charged with the attempted murder of his wife and two young children, pleaded not guilty on Thursday in a Redwood City courtroom. He was ordered by the judge to be held without bail.
Apart from attempted murder and domestic violence, the 41-year-old Pasadena doctor also faces enhancements for great bodily injury, as stated by San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.
On Thursday, Dharmesh Patel was barred from communicating with his wife, Neha, and their two children after a superior court judge reenacted a no-contact order against him. This order was previously replaced with a no-harassment order by another judge.
Patel faces three counts of attempted murder and two enhancements for the serious injuries suffered by his wife and 7-year-old daughter. If convicted of the charges, he could be sentenced to life in prison. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 20, 2023.
Dharmesh Patel has been held without bail as he poses a threat to the safety of his family
On January 2, Dharmesh Patel drove his Tesla with his family inside off a California cliff. Firefighters had to cut Dharmesh, his wife, their 4-year-old son, and 7-year-old daughter out of the car. As per the New York Post, they believed it was a 'miracle' that they survived.
Dharmesh was later charged with attempted murder after his wife claimed that he intentionally tried to kill her and her children.
District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe told The San Francisco Chronicle:
"She said very simply this was not an accident. We do believe the evidence establishes the necessary intent to kill."
Authorities believe they have enough evidence to classify the incident as an "intentional act." San Mateo police, however, are yet to reveal the motive behind the attempted murder-suicide. San Mateo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Sean Gallagher said:
"He is charged with three counts of pre-meditated and deliberate attempted murder. We believe the evidence will show him intentionally driving his family off a cliff with the intent to kill them."
Last month, Wagstaffe said:
"We’re looking into what led up to this. Was there depression or anything else? It wasn’t just that he was trying to kill them, he was trying to kill himself too."
Wagstaffe further stated that the evidence showed no signs of braking or skid marks. Surveillance cameras near Tom Lantos Tunnels showed the Tesla coming out of a tunnel and immediately going over the cliff.
Patel is currently being held without bail as he poses a threat to the safety of his family. The Pasadena doctor's high-profile attorney, Joshua Bentley, unsuccessfully tried to get the judge to drop the no-contact order, claiming that Dharmesh Patel's family did not want him to be prosecuted.