Trial of Tahoe teen should end Monday

The trial of a teen charged with vehicular manslaughter should come to a close Monday morning, said Hans Uthe, assistant district attorney for El Dorado County, Calif.

The girl's name has not been released because of her age, 16, at the time of the accident. She crashed a 2002 Jeep Liberty near South Tahoe High School in November, killing a teenage passenger and injuring two other youths.

Uthe expressed confidence that the girl will be convicted of either misdemeanor manslaughter or felony manslaughter - the difference being whether the teen is judged to have exercised simple or gross negligence in speeding while swerving the car from side to side, ultimately losing control and rolling the vehicle.

The felony conviction carries a sentence of three years, while the misdemeanor would be one year. The prosecution hopes to keep the girl in the area, to receive treatment, counseling and perhaps be put into foster care, said Uthe.

Normally, the sentence would be served with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Division of Juvenile Justice (formerly the California Youth Authority). However, Uthe doesn't believe that to be in the girl's best interest.

"We're not trying to send her to kiddie-prison," Uthe said.

Uthe expressed a great deal of gratitude to the family of the deceased teen, Greg Smith, for their compassion and understanding toward the driver.

The family wanted the girl tried as a juvenile, not as an adult, and to be rehabilitated.


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