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16-Year-Old Santee Driver in Fatal SR-52 Crash Sentenced to One Year

The one-time Santana High School student pleaded guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter.

Read more about local car crashes and local court cases

Updated July 16 @ 5:10 p.m.

A 16-year-old boy who to racing another young motorist on state Route 52, causing a , was sentenced Monday afternoon to a year in custody at a Juvenile facility in Campo.

The boy, who was a junior at in Santee at the time of the crash, pleaded guilty to charges of gross vehicular manslaughter resulting in death in connection with the April 4 double fatality on state Route 52. He faced a maximum of seven years and four months in custody.

If he follows court orders and stays out of trouble, the teen could be back home in six months and off probation in a year.

If he violates probation, the minor could be kept in custody for up to seven years and four months and remain on probation until he's 21, said prosecutor Minaz Bhayani.   

Judge Browder Willis told a Juvenile Court audience that unlike adult court, where the focus is on punishment, the goal in Juvenile Court is rehabilitation.   

"Your reality is that you have to do some work," the judge told the boy. "It (the incident) is not the measure of you."

Willis told the teen to write a letter of apology to both victims' families and to prepare to speak to young people about the mistakes he's made.

Speaking of the deaths he caused, the judge told the youth, "You've got to carry that around with you."

Before he was sentenced, the 16-year-old apologized for his actions.

"I'd just like to say that I'm sorry," the boy said. "I never meant for anything to happen. If I could exchange my life for someone else, I would."

Authorities said the boy and an 18-year-old motorist, Michael S. Johnson, were racing at speeds up to 100 mph on eastbound state Route 52 when the younger driver lost control of his Volkswagen Passat and crashed, killing 16-year-old Jayli Campbell and 18-year-old Anthony Foreman.

The boy's 15-year-old girlfriend, who was a passenger in the Passat, suffered a serious brain injury and spent , but survived. Another passenger was seriously injured.

The late-night crash occurred as the youths were all headed home to East County from a spring break in La Jolla.

Defense attorney James Dicks said at the 16-year-old's arraignment that his client had not been racing that day. He said the accelerator on the Passat stuck as the boy tried to pass another vehicle and that he which led to the deaths and injuries in the case.

Bhayani countered that an inspection of the Passat showed no defect with the accelerator. The prosecutor also noted that the 16-year-old was ticketed for driving 90 mph on state Route 125 in February and also cited for having passengers in his car before he was supposed to.

Theresa Campbell said the defendant never should have been behind the wheel the night of the deadly crash.

"I lost my son because of a race," she said.

Jayli's father wasn't happy with the length of the custodial sentence. He said the 16-year-old driver should have received a year in custody for each death.

"I just feel it wasn't right, for two people," Robert Campbell said. "For a young kid who's 16 years old, the parents are totally responsible for his actions."

Johnson was also charged in the deaths. He has to charges of gross vehicular manslaughter and other counts. His trial is set for September.

-City News Service

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Amy D July 17, 2012 at 12:18 AM
The kid got off lightly. I hope that in exchange for the light sentence, he grows in maturity and becomes a man who contributes as much to society as what he potentially took from it.
Kathy July 17, 2012 at 03:06 AM
If he had been an adult he would of gotten 6 to 8 years in prison. It is time to STOP letting these Teens get off with light sentencing and start giving them the punishment they deserve. This is a slap in the face of the family members that lost their children and one with brain damage. I hope those families hit both drivers parents with Civil suits to wake up these parents, that should of been more responsible for their children's actions. The parents of this Teen should of taken the keys away from him after his first ticket for speeding. It would of prevent the lost of 2 Teens and 1 Teen with Brain Injury.
Mary July 17, 2012 at 03:33 PM
One year for two dead children and 1 with life long injuries hardly seems appropriate. I agree the driver's parents are responsible and should be required to also serve time and personally pay restitution, in addition to any insurance payments to the victims. My prayers and love go out to the victim's families.
anjie July 17, 2012 at 04:15 PM
It makes me so frustrated that a 16 year old can drive like that and kill my nephew and a judge gives him a slap on the wrist, even thou he got a speeding ticket going 90 less then 2 months before he was racing on the freeway and killed jayli, what kind of justice is that? Its NOT
Kathy July 17, 2012 at 04:42 PM
My prayers and thoughts go out to you and your family. It is not justice and this kid will learn NOTHING from this, unfortunately.
S.K July 17, 2012 at 06:02 PM
As a person who was one of the first people who stopped after the accident. Seeing these kids minutes after it happened, they will forever be haunted (as I am) with the images that were witnessed. These kids will never get over this. What ever jail time handed out will never equal the lifetime filled with guilt and anguish over this. I was there and I saw their eyes and reactions and trying to wake up as they prayed for this to be a bad dream. I was with the two boys that did not make it. I was with the ones that did. Anthony and Jayli will always be there in my heart and I too will never forget them. Yet, I will always remember the pain I saw in the boys eyes that did make it. Those eyes will always haunt me.

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