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Family and friends of a woman who was killed in a crash in West Los Angeles urged a judge on Friday to impose the maximum sentence on the teenager who accelerated in a Lamborghini SUV that crashed into his car.
One of Monique Muñoz’s cousins, Shawna Rodriguez, called the 32-year-old “my best friend” and said “nothing will ever be the same again”.
Rodriguez told juvenile court judge Sabina A. Helton that the teenager “deserved the maximum sentence”.
The teenager – who was 17 at the time of the accident on February 17 and is now 18 – admitted a juvenile court petition accusing him of manslaughter while driving a vehicle during the a court hearing on April 23. He is due back in court next Thursday, when the judge can rule on what he will face.
Assistant District Attorney Kelly Kraetsch told the judge at the start of the hearing on Wednesday that the young man should be sent to a juvenile camp, while his defense attorney, Mark Werksman, replied that his client should be placed in a private program.
Los Angeles Police Department officer Daniel Whitmore, who analyzed data from the Lamborghini SUV’s event data recorder after the crash, said earlier this week that the vehicle’s speed was recorded at 86 mph five seconds before impact, with the driver’s foot “fully on the accelerator pedal at 100%” and the vehicle speed reaching 106 mph less than two seconds before the collision.
The officer said the data then showed the Lamborghini driver was applying the vehicle’s brakes, with the SUV moving somewhere between 77 and 92 mph when it collided with Muñoz’s Lexus, which was turning left. at the intersection of Olympic Boulevard and Overland Avenue.
LAPD Detective Jorge Trejo, the lead crash investigator, said the crash occurred during rush hour in a 35 mph zone and Muñoz died at the scene.
Trejo said surveillance footage retrieved from nearby shows the collision and that he spoke with several witnesses, including a woman who saw two cars pass her on the median before the collision.
In a letter read to court by the prosecutor, the victim’s mother wrote that the teenager made an “avoidable and deplorable choice” and that the hardest part was learning to live without her daughter, whom she called her best friend.
“The only comfort I have is that she knew how much she was loved and adored,” Carol Cardona wrote in the letter.
“The prison should serve as justice, not house arrest,” said one of Muñoz’s uncles, Anthony Crespin, in a statement that was read to court on his behalf.
Jacqueline Luna – who said she had 17 years of friendship with Muñoz who felt the two were sisters – described the learning she died as “like a piece of my heart torn out” and said that “there should be consequences” for the teenager’s actions.
“The justice system should do justice,” she said, adding that she didn’t think he should ever be allowed to drive again.
One of the victim’s cousins, Nicole Aguilar, told the judge: “My cousin, Monique, was taken from us by a reckless and reckless teenager.
Another cousin, Robert Crespin, said Muñoz was “more like a little sister to me”, with his wife, Stephanie, reading the rest of his statement after he became emotional.
He also urged the judge to impose the “maximum sentence”, saying the teenager “was so likely to turn things around”.
The teenager had been arrested by Beverly Hills Police in October 2020 and November 2020 – with body video of the two stops indicating that he was first cited for driving at 72 mph in a 35 zone mph, then cited for making a “dangerous start” by accelerating very quickly with this officer deciding to impound the vehicle. In both cases, officers noted that he was supposed to drive with someone who was at least 25 years old under learner’s license rules.
The teenager also seemed to get emotional during at least part of the victim impact statements.
In his testimony on Thursday, a clinical psychologist who performed a neuropsychological assessment of the teenager in August said he had symptoms consistent with a number of disorders, including autism spectrum disorder, and that he said he had has nightmares and flashbacks of thoughts of the accident victim, although he said he does not remember the collision.
Dr Karen Schiltz said the teenager admitted driving too fast, but told her he told her he didn’t want to hurt anyone. She testified that she concluded he needed intervention, but said he would not do well at a locked county facility because he cannot interpret social cues.
“He didn’t have any friends. He bought his friends, ”she testified.
Relatives of the victim and activists initially alleged that charges were not promptly brought against the teenager – the case was filed in April – due to his father’s wealth and influence , James Khuri, described by Forbes as a multimillionaire owner of several real estate companies. , manufacturing companies and an e-commerce company.
LAPD captain Brian Wendling told the Los Angeles Times that the Lamborghini driver’s arrest was only delayed because he had to be hospitalized for injuries sustained in the crash.
Elder Khuri apologized to Muñoz’s family via Instagram, offering “my support in any way you will allow me” and that he and his family “pray for the Muñoz family”.
The teenager’s parents appeared in court throughout their son’s trial hearing.
In an interview earlier this year with ABC7, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón claimed the teenager had been “properly charged for the crime he committed … which caused Monique’s death. Muñoz “.
Gascón said the question of what sentence the teenager should incur is “something for the court, and I’m sure the court will do the right things according to the law.”
Gascón issued a directive the day he was sworn in last December, in which he pledged that the office “immediately end the practice of referring young people to the adult justice system.”
The directive notes that the district attorney’s office will be guided by principles, including a prosecution approach that “should be biased to keep young people out of the juvenile justice system and when they need to get involved, our system must use the “lightest touch” necessary to ensure public safety.
Gascón cited research showing that the human brain is not fully developed until the mid-twenties, leading young people to make more impulsive decisions.
Outside court, one of the victim’s uncles, Richard Cartier, told reporters he wished the teenager could turn “50 so he would never drive again and understand the consequences of what he did”.
“I think he’s going to get the lollipop worth, and it’s still devastating for us,” he said, noting that “could be three to six to nine months”.
When asked if it was justice, he replied, “Absolutely not.
Victim’s family calls for maximum sentence for teenage Lamborghini driver in fatal crash was last modified: October 15, 2021 through
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