Crime & Courts

Drivers in crash that killed Wichita Southeast student may be tried as adults

Prosecutors are asking that a high school freshman and a sophomore be tried as adults on criminal charges stemming from an auto accident last month that killed a 16-year-old Wichita Southeast student.

The sophomore faces a hearing in two weeks to decide whether he will stay in juvenile court or go to adult court on charges of involuntary manslaughter and aggravated battery. It is scheduled for March 16.

A hearing for the freshman, who is charged with second-degree murder, is set for April 1.

Prosecutors say the boys, both 16, were driving cars in the Feb. 25 crash that killed Yadira Villa.

Wichita police said an argument between rival gangs resulted in a chase between two carloads of teens. An SUV tried to run the car Villa was riding in off the road, police said.

The car crashed into a tree near Lincoln and Fabrique. When Villa tried to exit the car, police said, the driver pulled away, knocking the girl to the ground and running over her.

The freshman was driving the car Yadira was riding in; the sophomore the SUV.

Neither of the boys' lawyers returned telephone calls Wednesday.

Although police said both were known gang members, neither were involved in the original argument.

Wichita school records show the freshman had not attended Southeast since Dec. 5, 2008. The sophomore had returned to Southeast in January after not being in school since December 2008.

Both are in the county's Juvenile Detention Facility and are attending school there.

Assistant District Attorney Mark Jordan said in his motion that both boys had histories of "antisocial behavior or patterns of physical violence," in listing reasons they should be tried as adults.

Jordan also said the ninth-grader has "a sophistication and maturity" level determined by "home environment, emotional attitude, and pattern of living" which "indicate a desire to be treated as an adult."

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