By Team

WEST PALM BEACH (CBSMiami/AP) — A plea deal worked out by prosecutors and attorneys for an 18-year-old accused of killing four people in a crash last year has been rejected by the judge.

On Monday, Palm Beach Circuit Judge Howard Coates said the 10-year prison sentence is too lenient and told the lawyers to either reach a new deal for Christopher Garrett Jr. or prepare to go to trial.

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“We’re talking about four deaths. We’re talking about four destroyed families, and I just have some real issues with only a 10-year sentence,” the judge said.

Garrett was 17 last July when police said he stole a sports utility vehicle from Rapids Water Park and drove at speeds reaching more than 100 mph. He ran a red light and slammed into another SUV that was making a turn.

The state attorney’s office chose to prosecute Garrett as an adult. He faces charges of vehicular homicide, DUI manslaughter and grand theft for his role in the July 2021 high-speed crash that killed Jay’Oni Leonard, 14, Alexia Simpson, 17, Elizabeth Anderson, 62, and George Nienhouse, 65.

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West Palm Beach police had spotted the vehicle and attempted to stop it before determining the chase had become too dangerous, according to law-enforcement records.

Under the agreement, Garrett would have pleaded guilty to two counts each of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide and one count of grand theft auto. His driver’s license would have also been revoked.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Sept. 27.

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