Accused drunk driver faces victim's family in court


by JESSICA VESS / KVUE News & Photojournalist KENNETH NULL

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Posted on March 22, 2013 at 11:37 AM

Updated Friday, Mar 22 at 11:49 AM

AUSTIN -- The woman charged with driving drunk and hitting a 13-year-old girl faced a Travis County courtroom Friday morning.

The pre- trial hearing for Lauren Cherry turned emotional for the young teen’s family.
Ekia Smith remains in a permanent vegetative state. Her mother and grandmother appeared in court on her behalf. They walked into the 147th District Courtroom, braced for the emotions that may hit.
When Cherry sat down a few rows behind them, Ekia's mom, Kimberly Jenkins, couldn't hold back her tears. She cried softly into a tissue.
“I want her to see Ekia. I want her to see Ekia and I want other people to see Ekia and know what Lauren's actions caused Ekia and our family,” said Jenkins.  
Cherry is charged with causing serious bodily injury. She’s accused of hitting Ekia after a night of drinking on 6th Street back in August. She didn't stop after hitting her.
“I want her to see the pain that she caused and I want her to know that we're hurting and she's the one who's causing this pain,” said Ekia’s grandmother Catherine Henry. “Ekia wasn't the one who went out to drink and party and over drink.”
Doctors didn't think Ekia would survive the crash, but she's been breathing on her own since they took her off life support. She’s breathing, but still has no brain activity.
Ekia's mother and grandmother say they hope to make every court date set for Cherry from here until the trial. Judge Cliff Brown scheduled another hearing for April 16.
Cherry's attorney Steven Lee said he needed the time to go through the evidence collected in the investigation, including videos from the night of the crash.

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