Paul William Walden has been in court plenty of times, but never in a case that has sparked national concern and left him in custody without the possibility of making bail.
Walden, 31, is the suspect in last week's hit-and-run in Carmichael that seriously injured two young people and killed the four dogs they were walking.
As he made his first court appearance in the case Monday, he got a glimpse of his newfound notoriety. Five television cameras, a newspaper photographer and a courtroom full of reporters gathered for the brief session, during which Walden entered the jailhouse courtroom from a back corridor into a cell and kept his back to the families of his alleged victims, Gemily West and Harison Long-Randall.
"All cowards go to a corner," Long-Randall's father, Chris Randall, said after court.
Walden's only comments in court came when Sacramento Superior Court Judge Tami R. Bogert called his name and he responded, "Yes, ma'am."
The judge explained to Walden the nine counts he faces, including two felony counts of hit-and-run. As she noted that he faces four counts of cruelty to animals, Bogert named the four dogs killed Winry, Evie, Bindie and Zury and added that he is no longer being held on $135,000 bail.
Instead, the judge said, he is to remain in the Sacramento County jail without bail because he is believed to have violated his parole on a case from 2011 in which he pleaded no contest to possessing methadone pills and battery against a woman. He got 60 days in that case and probation requiring him to stay away from controlled substances.
Walden did not enter a plea Monday, was appointed a public defender and is scheduled to return to court Wednesday.
The California Highway Patrol, which arrested Walden as he was driving in North Highlands about 1:30 a.m. Thursday, says he was under the influence of drugs at the time.
That allegation angered the families of the hit-and-run victims, who said after court that until Walden was arrested they worried that whoever hit the couple was still out driving.
"All I could think is, 'I hope he doesn't hit someone's child, mother, a kindergarten group or something,' " said Chris Randall, whose son lost a leg in the incident.
"This guy's mysterious. You can't figure somebody like that out. He got right back in the car and didn't care."
Walden, who had three previous arrests for driving under the influence over the past decade and other cases involving burglary, drugs and battery, was arrested driving his 1987 Nissan Maxima. The car had a broken headlight and other damage the CHP says matched evidence from the hit and run at Engle Road and Garfield Avenue on July 16.
"He continued to drive like it was just another day," Trevor West, Gemily's older brother, said outside the jail after court. "He didn't even clean his car up, and even today he couldn't make eye contact with us. He had no remorse; he doesn't care."
Long-Randall, 21, who witnesses say tried to push his girlfriend out of the path of the car, remains in critical condition at Mercy San Juan Medical Center in Carmichael and has not been able to speak to his family.
West, 23, went home Sunday after being treated for a broken leg and other injuries, but she is still having a difficult recovery, her brother said.
"Gemily's doing a little better," Trevor West said. "She's having a hard time coping with the loss of her four dogs. Obviously, a lot of her day is consumed with the thoughts of Harison and how he's doing."
Witnesses say the car that hit them was driving without lights and going about 80 mph on the residential street. They say it never slowed down after hitting the couple and the dogs in a crosswalk.
The case has generated interest nationwide, with readers from Illinois, Texas, Michigan and other states mailing donations to The Bee for the families' medical expenses.
"I can't describe the heartache I feel," Chris Schumann of Avon Lake, Ohio, wrote as she sent in a $25 check for the couple. "Harison losing his leg. Gemily being injured and both losing four beloved pets in a horrific accident.
"I know the pain of losing a pet due to their age or illness, but I cannot wrap my mind around how it must feel to lose four of them in this manner."
More than $14,000 in contributions for the couple have poured in, ranging from envelopes with $1 in them to a check for $1,000.
The Greater Sacramento New Car Dealers Association also has pledged a $10,000 donation, and family members say they are overwhelmed at the outpouring.
"It's been extremely tough for the families," West said. "This kind of tragedy changes your life .
"Every single person out there that helped us, you're in our thoughts and prayers."