Driver, 16, in Fatal Crash Pleads Not Guilty; Detained at Juvenile Hall

Prosecutors said they will seek to have the teen tried as an adult.

Updated April 13 @ 1:00 p.m.

A 16-year-old Santee teen accused of racing another motorist and causing a that killed two of his passengers pleaded not guilty Friday in Juvenile Court to charges of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and engaging in a speed contest.

Juvenile Court Judge Browder Willis ordered the boy detained at Juvenile Hall and set a status conference for May 15. Prosecutors said they will seek to have the teenager tried as an adult.

The 16-year-old turned himself in to authorities Thursday after being notified that an arrest warrant had been issued for him in connection with the April 4 accident.

Authorities said the teen and an 18-year-old motorist, Michael S. Johnson, were racing at speeds of up to 100 mph on eastbound state Route 52 when the younger of the two lost control of his Volkswagen Passat and crashed, .

Defense attorney James Dicks said Friday that the 16-year-old was not racing, but the accelerator on his client's car stuck as he tried to pass another vehicle and that he committed no intentional act which led to the deaths and injuries in the case.

Deputy District Attorney Minaz Bhayani countered by saying an initial inspection of the Passat showed no defect with the accelerator.

The prosecutor told the judge that the 16-year-old was cited for driving 90 mph on state Route 125 in February.

to charges of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and other counts. He has an April 26 preliminary hearing scheduled.

-City News Service

Motivated Santee Citizen April 13, 2012 at 08:05 PM
"Two cars were traveling over 100 mph on State Route 52 on April 4 when one car lost control near Convoy Street and flipped, ejecting Campbell and Foreman who died instantly according to officials." "The juvenile was driving with a restricted license, and was not supposed to be driving past 11 p.m. or with anyone else in the vehicle officials said at the time of the crash." "According to his defense attorney, the teenager told officials that he attempted to pass a car, pushed the gas and the accelerator stuck." "The prosecutor told Judge Browder Willis that a preliminary finding by the CHP showed that there was no defect in the juvenile's car." "The defense requested the teenager be released to the custody of his parents where he could be homeschooled, would wear a bracelet and would surrender his drivers license." "However, the prosecutor told the judge the teenager had been issued a speeding citation for driving over 90 mph on State Route 125 in February." "Since the teenager did not learn from that violation, the prosecutor argued, the minor should be kept in detention for the safety of the community and himself." "The defendant’s mother is a stay-at-home mom and his father works at Caltrans and will be home in the early afternoon, the defense attorney argued. The teenager’s grandmother, who was also in attendance at the hearing, will be involved as well."
vicky April 13, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Guess he did not learn the first time. Going 90 on 125 in Feb. Hopefully he will learn now. Its a sad sad sad situation all the way around for everyone involved.
S Radzikowski April 14, 2012 at 02:25 AM
Keeping the boy in jail, however, still does not serve a reasonable purpose other than apparently satiating third-parties' beliefs that "punishment" should start now, notwithstanding that he has not been convicted! - that he "be held in detention based on the prior speeding citation" - "he did not learn the first time" - "for the safety of the community and himself" If the boy and his parents are mandated that he remain under "house arrest" (parents' $$$), with electronic monitoring (parents' $$$) versus in juvy (my $$$) eating County food (my $$$) - it's a no brainer. Get that ball and chain & keep him home! Shame on the judge and the prosecutor! They should know better.
S Radzikowski April 14, 2012 at 09:58 PM
MSCitizen - Alas, you have made assumptions into facts. As the court did.
Doug Curlee April 15, 2012 at 12:04 AM
i don't think so.. the FACT is that the 16 year old kid was sriving in excess of 100 at the time of the crash.. the FACT is that two people are dead because of it.. the FACT is that his parents let him loose with a car he was not even legally allowed to drive at that hour.. the FACT is he was driving with other peopl in the car, which he was legally forbidden to do, unless there was an older licensed driver with him.. the FACT is that at the age of 16, he's already a repeat offender.. no assumptions needed, are there? he needs ot be where he is right now.. and he needs to be tried as an adult. doug
Kathy April 15, 2012 at 09:32 AM
Agree 100%, for his safety and the Public, too.
S Radzikowski April 15, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Actually, I agree with all of you - in all but one point! ;>) Glad you came out and posted! The parents clearly failed to reign in junior here. Whether junior should be tried as an adult, is open to further review IMHO. The parents certainly should be. Where were you when junior went off with the car??!! Geez....
S Radzikowski April 15, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Doug Curlee April 16, 2012 at 08:38 PM
motivated.. i think most of those conditions..i.e., not driving after 11 and not driving with others in the car are automatic on getting the restricted license you get at 16..already codified in the motor vehicle code. .. as for outside influences.. i have to wonder about the roadway.. anyone who has driven over the 52 in that area knows it's aseries of unexpected speed bumps, due to the construction of the freeway atop still-settling landfill.. doug
S Radzikowski April 20, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Sadly, the lives of several families are forever changed. Lots of questions remain. I do not go along with "Motivated's" conclusion: "He clearly thought he was an adult as did his parents, so why not the Justice System as well?" ANSWER: because the Justice System - and a judicious "Society" in general - is tasked to make a judicious decision - regardless of the defendant's or his parent's prior very bad decisions. What good does it do to lock up a teenager in prison for the rest of his or her life? Science knows a teenager's frontal lobes - the decision-making areas of a brain - do not "mature" until the early 20's. I never understand why the names of prisons all are "correctional facilities" and not "punishment facilities". Last I looked, our justice system is not supposed to be an "eye for eye" system - altho sometimes I sure would like it to be (9/11, etc.). Certainly, a teenager should be outside of our society's darkest moments of punishment wishes. Yes, yes…other teenagers are dead. They should not be. Perhaps, we should make some exception from reason for these circumstances - let our atavistic punishment need to prevail: a public flogging of the teenager - say, 50 lashes with a "prison strop" on the bare buttocks, in pubic - televised - and require it be shown in every public school system from middle school up. Now that’s some old wisdom, eh? What do you think?


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