CENTRAL ISLIP - A Melville man pleaded not guilty today in a deadly Dix Hills hit-and-run, but the suspect's attorney claims his client did hit the victim.

Albert Dibernardo, 28, of Melville, was charged with leaving the scene after allegedly mowing down and killing 44-year-old bicyclist Ricardo Fernandez. Dibernardo turned himself in to police last night.

Dibernando's attorney Thomas Speer says his client was reaching for a Yoo-Hoo drink from the backseat when the accident happened. He says Dibernardo then panicked.

Speer says it was the first time Dibernardo had driven in a while.

"Three months ago, Dibernardo had rescued his dog from a situation where the dog was almost hit by a car, and severely broke his leg in the process," Speer says. "He had just been cleared by his doctor to drive."

A judge set bail at $25,000.