The 31-year-old livery cab driver accused of ramming his car into an SUV carrying his girlfriend, causing her vehicle to flip, and then stabbing her to death pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges Thursday.
Dionis Espinal is being held without bail on second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, criminal contempt and criminal possession of a weapon charges.
He's accused of killing his 20-year-old girlfriend, Katherine German, in a jealous rage early Wednesday after chasing German and a friend down the Hutchinson River Parkway in his green Toyota Camry.
German had taken out a protective order against her estranged boyfriend Aug. 15, according to a criminal complaint. The woman was staying at a hotel to get away from the man, with whom she had a month-old daughter.
After tracking German to the hotel, Espinal allegedly rammed his cab into the SUV she fled in with her friend, and it flipped over onto the driver's side. German allegedly approached the vehicle and stabbed her in the head, throat and torso as she tried to get out, according to police. He did not attack the friend.
German's mother, Fernanda Rivera, had suspected her daughter's boyfriend was dangerous.
He was "jealous, very jealous," Rivera said. "All the time he was following her, watching where she was going."
Neighbors laid flowers outside German's home in the Bronx Wednesday afternoon.
One of Espinal's co-workers, Ramon Castillo, said he knew Espinal and his girlfriend had problems, but he remembered the man saying he was going to leave German alone.
"They kind of had personal problems in the relationship," Castillo said. "They weren't doing well."
Espinal is being represented by Camille Abate from the Bronx Defenders. She wasn't immediately available for contact Thursday afternoon.