PHOENIX -- The man accused of trying to make a Phoenix-bound Greyhound bus roll over on the highway pleaded not guilty to dozens of charges of assault and endangerment Wednesday morning.
Prosecutors say Maquel Morris, 25, attacked the driver of the bus in an attempt to cause a crash on Jan. 23.
Despite the attack, the bus driver kept control of the steering wheel and managed to keep the vehicle upright while guiding it across the median, across the westbound lanes and off the road, coming to a stop just feet from oncoming traffic.
Dozens of people were injured.
"I thought we were all gonna die," passenger Chrissy Sanchez said just hours after the incident.
"He started crying and I knew something was wrong," Gregory Forte said of Morris. "It was bizarre. I hope I never have to go through anything like this ever again."
Less than a week after the incident, Morris gave a 20-minute jailhouse interview in which he apologized to those who were on the bus with him.
While he did not answer questions about his role in the near crash, he said that an old boss was after him and that he asked his fellow passengers to call the police.
"The whole time I was inside the Greyhound, and no one called the police," Morris said. "I even asked people to call the police."
He said it was never his intention to hurt anyone or put anyone in danger.
"I called everybody and said the same thing: 'I just want to get home safely,'" he said.
Russ Richelsoph, a former public defender, said Morris sounded unintelligible during his interview, and jail is not the right place for someone behaving like him.
"Putting somebody in an environment that is stressful and unpleasant isn’t conducive to getting them to open up to treatment, getting them to take medications and getting them stabilized," Richelsoph said, adding that Morris should have received mental health treatment sooner.
Morris is charged with 45 counts including aggravated assault and endangerment. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Wednesday morning.
Morris, who is represented by a public defender, is slated to return to court for a pretrial conference before Commissioner Christine Mulleneaux on April 1.