A teen boy admitted in court Friday he threw a sandbag off an overpass, which landed on a car and killed a passenger.
Pedro Salinas, 13, pleaded guilty to murder, a first degree felony; and felonious assault, a second degree felony, as well as a misdemeanor count of vehicular vandalism during a hearing in Lucas County Juvenile Court.
A felony charge of vehicular vandalism was dismissed.
He admitted to throwing a sandbag off from a construction zone on a bridge over I-75 onto the expressway. The sandbag landed on a vehicle and killed Marquise Byrd, a passenger.
An autopsy found Mr. Byrd, 22, of Warren, Mich., suffered blunt-force trauma to the head and neck. He was pronounced dead at Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center, according to the Lucas County Coroner’s Office.
The Salinas youth’s court appearance occurred as Ohio Department of Transportation officials announced work crews next week will install fencing at the Indiana Avenue construction site. ODOT crews will install the “temporary vandal fencing” Tuesday through Thursday, ODOT said. The Indiana Avenue bridge and exit ramp will be closed during the work.
“Keep in mind, this temporary fencing is not designed to be [aesthetically] pleasing, and it is not designed to keep people out of the construction zone, only to deter people from criminally throwing items onto the interstate,” spokesman Rebecca Dangelo said in a written statement.
On Friday in court, the teen’s mother sat next to him, stroking his hair, while he held a tissue to his eye.
Mr. Byrd’s relatives filled the courtroom, wearing bright blue T-shirts with his picture on them. Lillian Diallo, a Detroit-based attorney for Mr. Byrd’s family, said the family was yet again upset at the boy’s apparent smirking in the courtroom — a statement similar to a statement she gave after two other teens pleaded in the case last week.
Ms. Diallo described Mr. Byrd as loving and respectful as she stood next to the man’s mother, Patricia Wilkes.
“He didn’t have a chance. He was only 22. You killed my son,” Ms. Wilkes said about the teen after the hearing. “You have to live with that the rest of your life.”
Ms. Wilkes said she hopes the judge sentences the youth until the age of 21 — the maximum sentence that could be imposed. Judge Denise Navarre Cubbon will sentence him March 9.
The Salinas youth was 13 years old at the time of the incident. He was charged along with his three friends, Sean Carter, 14, William Parker II, 15, and Demetrius Wimberly, 14.
The four boys were walking to a store to purchase candy when they crossed the Indiana Avenue overpass. They began throwing rocks at cars, the boys said.
Earlier this month, the Carter and Parker youths pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, vehicular vandalism, and a misdemeanor offense of vehicular vandalism.
The Carter boy admitted to throwing one sandbag, which landed on the side of the road. The second sandbag, which the Salinas youth admitted he threw, struck Mr. Byrd.
The boys ran from the scene and went to buy candy, it was learned during their pleas. They walked back along the overpass, where they were met by police. The teens later learned the second sandbag drop caused the fatality.
Toledo police arrested the teens in the Dec. 19 injury and subsequent death of Mr. Byrd.
The teens remain held at the downtown juvenile detention center. Parents have declined interview requests.
The Carter and Parker youths will also be sentenced at a later date. The Wimberly youth is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 7.
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