Dorchester woman charged with fatal South End hit-and-run told police she ‘panicked’

A 21-year-old Dorchester woman, who was charged today with fatally running over a pedestrian in the South End and then fleeing the scene, told police she “panicked.”

Boston police allege Christina Martinez struck the woman as she crossed Washington Street around 9 p.m. Thursday, leaving the victim’s body in the middle of the busy intersection with Northampton Street.

Witnesses provided the make and license plate of the car, leading police to Martinez’s apartment, prosecutors said. Parked out front of her Draper Street residence, her car had a shattered windshield and other damage when police found it, prosecutors said.

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When confronted, Martinez told police, “I know why you’re here. I panicked,” Assistant District Attorney Jennifer O’Keefe said at Martinez’s arraignment in Roxbury Municipal Court.

Relatives who appeared in court identified the victim as Vielisha Pullum, 63, a lifelong Boston resident who lived near the scene of the crash. She was on her way home when she was struck, they said.

“She will be greatly missed,” said Tanaysha Howell, Pullum’s niece. “She was a wonderful woman. This is very hard.”

Another niece said she was devastated over her aunt’s death, and lashed out at Martinez for allegedly fleeing the scene.

“When you hit a human being, you need to stop and see if she’s OK,” she said outside the courthouse. “You have to have some empathy in your heart.”

Pullum was taken to nearby Boston Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.

A lawyer for Martinez, Scott Gediman, said she was “truly, truly sorry” about the woman’s death.

“Ms. Martinez and her entire family send their heartfelt condolences and sympathies,” he said. “This was a tragic and unfortunate accident.”

Gediman said Martinez is studying child development at Urban College of Boston and works full-time at a day-care center.

Martinez is charged with motor vehicle homicide and leaving the scene of a fatal accident. She was also cited for driving without her glasses.

She pleaded not guilty to all charges and bail was set at $1,000 cash.

Derek Watt was riding with a friend down Washington Street when he saw the crash. He said the car struck Pullum directly, sending her onto the hood of Martinez’s car and then down onto Washington Street, where she was found by police.

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