MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Freeport woman has pleaded guilty in the death of a doctor who was killed while mowing her lawn two years ago.
Kayla Gerdes, 20, appeared in court Tuesday looking nothing like the disheveled teen who authorities said was high on drugs when she mowed down 69-year-old Dr. Rebecca Twine, 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reported.
Wearing a charcoal grey pantsuit and her long hair shining, Gerdes admitted to the crime saying, “I lost control, I hit Rebecca Twine.”
1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reports
After entering the guilty plea, Kayla’s mother, Tara, told Rivera that Kayla was “very, very remorseful.”
Prosecutors said on April 20, 2010, Gerdes was speeding and high on Xanax, oxycodone and marijuana when she lost control of the van she was driving and drove 100 feet onto a Hempstead lawn, killing Twine.
After her arrest, Gerdes went off on a dramatic rant to reporters profusely apologizing for striking the victim. A day later, police released a statement the suspect made while in custody claiming she didn’t feel too horrible about the incident because “she was old.”
A judge agreed to sentence Gerdes to a minimum of four and up to nine years in prison in exchange for the guilty plea, reports CBS 2’s Emily Smith. She will serve six years in prison and be on parole for three years, Rivera reports.
Gerdes, who was 18 years old at the time of the incident, was indicted on 28 charges, including second-degree manslaughter and driving under the influence of drugs, and had faced 59 years in prison if convicted.
“Kayla Gerdes took the wheel when she was high on drugs, recklessly took the life of an innocent woman, and cruelly showed no remorse,” Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said. “This case illustrates the tragic consequences of drugged driving, and my heart goes out to Dr. Twine-Wright’s family as they continue to cope with this senseless loss.”
Defense Attorney John Lewis said he hopes there is some closure for the two families involved in the case.
“Kayla Gerdes is not the same person she was two years ago,” Lewis said. “She has written letters to the family, which as her lawyer I thought imprudent and inappropriate to mail over these last two years. Hopefully they can now be sent to the family to show she is truly remorseful for what happened.”
The victim’s son, Chauncy Twine, left the courtroom Tuesday in shock, saying his mother’s life had to be worth more than six years in prison.
“It’s just such a shame,” Twine said. “It just doesn’t feel like justice.”
Sentencing is set for July 10. Until then, Gerdes will be remanded to prison.
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