FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Shawn Ginder pleaded not guilty Monday to a felony hit-and-run charge for allegedly hitting and killing a homeless woman with his truck before authorities say he dragged the woman’s body eight miles under his vehicle.
If a guilty verdict is reached, Ginder could receive a maximum of four years in prison.
Ginder is alleged to have been responsible for the death of 29-year-old Monique Contreraz, she was crossing the street near Milburn and Herndon avenues in May of 2022.
Contreraz’s body was found roughly eight miles away at the La Quinta on Shaw and Cornelia Avenues.
While he faces four years in prison, advocates say the sole charge brought against Ginder for her brutal and tragic death is not enough.
“I’m very upset. I’m very disgusted by the judicial system here in Fresno. Has failed Monique, other low-income individuals, other people of color, other unhoused individuals like we’re nothing,” said Dez Martinez, founder of the Fresno Homeless Union.
Martinez said she and others will not stop fighting for justice for Monique, who she says had been homeless for only around three months.
“Loving person, caring, joyful, happy, always smiling you know? So, she had a lot of trauma that she carried but she smiled past it,” said Martinez.
Martinez says Ginder’s prior criminal history, which includes three DUIs should warrant a minimum charge for vehicular manslaughter.
Defense Attorney and Legal Analyst Mark King says it is not that simple.
“In order to charge vehicular manslaughter, you’d have to have some kind of witness or other evidence that the driver was doing something negligent or unlawful when they struck the pedestrian,” said King.
The Fresno County District Attorney’s Office previously told us it believes felony hit-and-run is the only charge that can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
King says however, the brutal nature of Contreraz’s death could impact sentencing.
“Driving eight miles away, with a body underneath your vehicle and fleeing not only the scene but fleeing where you left your vehicle… That can be used in court as evidence of a guilty mind,” said King.
Shawn Ginder will be back in the Fresno County Superior Court for his pre-preliminary hearing on Nov. 28.