CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. - A mother says life has been "hell" since her daughter was killed when a classmate crashed while driving more than 100 mph. Channel 2’s Tom Jones was live in Clayton County when her daughter's friend apologized in court.
Prosecutors said Cristina Pavon was going more than 106 mph when her car flipped several times and crashed into a tree.
Jones was in court, expecting Pavon's trial to start. However, she pleaded guilty and Jones heard emotional testimony from the victim's mother.
“This year has been hell,” Melody Penn said.
The mother of 18-year-old Makayla Penn testified losing her daughter has left her family hurt and her grandchildren asking when she is coming home.
“They don't understand. She's not here. They don't understand what happened to her,” Penn said.
Makayla Penn died when Pavon was speeding on the I-75 exit ramp to South Lake Mall last year.
“It flipped four or five times in the air, hit a tree and came to rest,” prosecutor Jackie Smith said.
Makayla Penn and Pavon were classmates at Community Christian School. Prosecutors said the teens were headed to the mall to get swimwear for spring break during "senior skip day."
Smith said Pavon began racing another classmate and crashed.
“What was taken can never, ever be replaced,” Penn said.
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Jones was at the courthouse as jury selection was about to begin in the case. Then he found out Pavon wanted to avoid a trial.
“How do you intend to plead?” Clayton County Superior Court Judge Katie Powers asked.
“Guilty,” Pavon responded.
She pleaded guilty to first-degree vehicular homicide and reckless driving.
"I just want to apologize and I do accept full responsibility," Pavon said. “And I really want to express from the bottom of my heart how truly sorry I am.”
Makayla's mother seemed to question some of Pavon's decisions after the crash, including her request to keep her passport at a bond hearing.
“She was asking about going on a cruise. We had to cancel all of our vacations. Every single one,” Penn said.
Makayla's mother was also troubled when Pavon asked her school to allow her to walk across the stage for graduation.
Pavon was sentenced to 15 years, but will only serve three in the county jail. Pavon also received first offender status.
"She will have no felony conviction on her record. In fact, it will be expunged," defense attorney Jackie Patterson said.
Once released, Pavon must serve 5,000 hours of community service, and 100 of those hours require Pavon to speak to kids about the dangers of reckless driving.
She can only drive to and from work, school, church, doctor or probation office. She also must pay a $1,000 fine.
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