Voice trembling, tears streaming down her cheeks, a Monroe High School student who killed her classmate in a crash as they drove to prom asked Butler County's juvenile court for forgiveness Wednesday morning.
"I am forever sorry for what happened," she said, reading off a prepared statement written on lined notebook paper. "This day will haunt me more than anything."
The crowd assembled at her sentencing hearing included the parents of 17-year-old Kaylie Jackson, who died after the driver lost control of her parents' Tesla and struck a telephone pole on rural Millikin Road. Jackson was flung from the vehicle and died in the hospital days later; three other passengers survived, although one broke his nose and jaw in the crash.
That victim, Mitchell Foster Jr., told the court he forgave the driver.
"I hope she finds reconciliation wherever she ends up and lives a productive life,” he said.
The girl, who had been a close friend of Jackson's, spent the eight months between the April 27 wreck and the Wednesday hearing grappling with daily suicidal thoughts, according to defense attorney Melynda Cook.
She pleaded "true" — juvenile court's equivalent of a guilty plea — to charges of aggravated vehicular homicide and aggravated vehicular assault on Dec. 3.
Judge Thomas Lipps sentenced the driver to six months in a rehabilitation treatment center, and her license will be suspended until she turns 21.
"She was reckless and she made a bad decision, and she’s got to pay for it," he said. "But that doesn’t make her a bad person and this needn’t define her life, even though it probably will.”