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16-Year-Old Driver Pleads Not Guilty in Fatal SR52 Case

Prosecutors will seek to have him tried as an adult.

A 16-year-old boy accused of racing another motorist and causing a freeway crash 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, killing 16-year-old Jayli Campbell and 18-year-old Anthony Foreman.

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.

Michael S. Johnson pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and other counts. He has an April 26 preliminary hearing scheduled.

-- City News Service

Lisa April 15, 2012 at 05:48 AM
You would think that since he killed his two friends that he'd plead guilty and try to give their families some type of closure instead of putting them through this trial. Where is the compassion? His recklessness killed them... he needs to man up and take the consequences of his childishness. And the parents too for letting their 16 year old out there with the distractions of friends when they know he does not have the experience to be a safe driver. This story is tragic.

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