Woman In Deadly Pinecrest Crash Found Guilty Of Careless Driving
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A woman was found guilty of careless driving on Wednesday after she was accused of hitting and killing two University of Miami students from China.
Milady Pequeno’s license will be suspended for 2 years. She is required to complete 120 hours of community service and high risk traffic school. She will also have to pay a $1000 fine.
She took the stand Wednesday in her own defense.
“I would have done anything, anything, not to hit them,” she said. “I didn’t see them. I would have done anything, given my arms not to hit them.”
Milady Pequeno tearfully recounted the night last October when she fatally struck Ying Chen, 27, and Hau Liu, 26.
Click here to see Lauren Pastrana’s report.
She testified she didn’t see the pair until she hit them.
Pequeno said she did not go back to render aid, because she was so shaken.
“I didn’t have the strength to walk and see the dead body,” she said.
Pequeno conceded she didn’t call 9-1-1, saying she was “nervous and hysterical” and unable to dial the phone.
She admitted on cross-examination, though, that she was able to place a call to her brother.
Pequeno said her view was blocked by an SUV in the next lane, and the students must have darted in front of it before she hit them.
On cross-examination though, Pequeno conceded she made no mention of the SUV when questioned by police the night of the accident.
“I’m not a criminal. I’m a mother,” Pequeno said. Her case was heard in traffic court. She was never arrested and did not face any jail time.
After she spoke, Judge Altfield heard via speakerphone from one of the victim’s sisters from China who said Pequeno should be “severely punished.”
“They don’t want to live,” the sister said of her parents. “We are alive, but our life is worse than death. We have to live and get justice for our children.”
The female victim’s mother also addressed the court through a translator. She was sobbing on phone as she “wishes to have my daughter back, know it can never be.”
Meanwhile, Pequeno was sobbing uncontrollably as the victim’s mother wept over the phone.
At one point she mouthed “I’m a mother, too.”
In opening statements Tuesday, the prosecution told the jury Pequeno wasn’t watching the road when she struck the students.
Chen and Liu were working on their doctoral degrees in engineering.
On Tuesday Traffic homicide investigator George Wilhelm testified evidence showed Pequeno was not speeding, but that there were no “skid marks” or other evidence that she made an effort to stop. The state says Pequeno admitted in a civil deposition to being distracted, talking to her mother at the time of the accident.
Before ruling, Judge Altfield said “I can’t imagine that death could have been caused by someone going 21 mph.”
Defense attorney Angel Ruiz called the tragedy an accident before the ruling, but did not comment after the fact.
Kai Zang, a friend of the victims who acted as a translator for their families, left the courtroom knowing the judge did what he could.
“I believe the trial is fair. However, the discretion of the court is limited,” he said. “The charge is careless and that’s what they can do and that’s what we cannot do, which is push it too far. We have to obey the law. The family has no choices.”