CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — A grand jury on Wednesday indicted a teenager accused of causing a crash that killed her best friend.
Cristina Pavon-Baker, 17, faces first-degree vehicular homicide and reckless driving charges. A Superior Court judge unsealed the indictments Wednesday afternoon.
Pavon-Baker is accused of driving her Mini Cooper recklessly on the I-75 northbound Morrow exit ramp and crashing her car in a wooded area in March, officials said.
The crash killed her best friend, 18-year-old Mikayla Penn, officials said. It was "senior skip day" and the teens were headed to the mall.
"The law requires that the indictments be returned in open court, so I will accept these indictments now," said Judge Kathryn Powers, of the Superior Court.
Powers accepted the true bill indictment.
Channel 2's Tom Jones was in court in April when Pavon-Baker asked the court for bond and asked that she be allowed to keep her passport so she could go on an international cruise her family had planned.
The request upset Penn's parents and the district attorney.
"She doesn't need to be on a cruise, enjoying herself, celebrating whatever she's celebrating," Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson said.
The judge ultimately denied Pavon-Baker's request. Lawson said the request wasn't fair to the victim.
"I have an 18-year-old who can't go on a cruise, who can't be with her parents who are in the back of this courtroom," Lawson said.
Pavon-Baker's attorney said the indictment did not come as a surprise.
"Just remember that an indictment doesn't mean that a person is guilty. It simply means now they can go and stand trial and defend themselves," Attorney Jackie Patterson said.
The exit ramp where the crash happened has undergone a major makeover.
"You cannot miss those signs. You can see them from McDonough," said Chief James Callaway, of the Morrow Police Department.
Callaway said he had seen several accidents happen at the exit ramp before. He said speeding drivers fail to negotiate the sharp curve and crash.
After Pavon-Baker's crash, the state put up new, huge signs, and Callaway said they have made a big difference.
"We've had zero injury crashes at that exit," Callaway said.
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