Lyford teen acquitted in fatal ATV accident
Tue, 01 Oct 2013 21:11:59 GMT —
A Willacy County teen is going home after she was acquitted of manslaughter and aggravated assault charges.
The teenage girl was charged after one of her friends died and another was seriously injured in an ATV accident last September.
The teen was driving an ATV when it hit a patch of mud and flipped over killing 15-year-old Gabriela "Gaby" Rivera.
The presiding judge, J. Bonner Dorsey granted a directed verdict Tuesday afternoon claiming the prosecution failed to show evidence that proved the teen knew of the risk she put her friends in.
Dorsey days a directed verdict means there is no evidence that would justify putting it in the jury's hands.
On Tuesday morning, the state called several witnesses to the stand including the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) state trooper who responded to the accident and wrote up the original report.
The owners of the ATV also testified that it was driven by the teen, as well as another friend involved in the accident.
The teen's drivers education instructor was also called to the stand.
When the court reconvened after lunch recess, the defense argued for a "directed verdict" citing the prosecution failed to present convincing evidence that could convict the teen.
State prosecutors argued the 15-year-old girl engaged in reckless conduct because she drove an overloaded ATV and knowingly disregarded a dangerous situation.
"Maybe she should have understood the risk, but there was no evidence that she did understand the risk," Dorsey said.
Under a directed verdict, a judge hands down a verdict and does not let the jury make one.
A full timeline of events of the courtroom is available on Twitter at @BrettKGBT.