MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBS 2) — Months after a retired 69-year-old Long Island doctor was killed mowing her lawn, the woman charged in her death was apologetic Tuesday and told reporters she was “really sorry.”

Kayla Gerdes, charged with second-degree manslaughter faces up to 15 years in the death of Dr. Rebecca Twine, of Hempstead.

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As she was led into a Mineola courtroom Tuesday, Gerdes, 19, told reporters she was not “the monster that I’ve been portrayed to be.”

“I’m so sorry for the family. I’m really sorry,” she said.

The words were in sharp contrast to Gerdes’ reaction shortly after the tragedy occurred in April 20 of last year. In a police statement given by Gerdes following the accident, the Freeport woman said “the thing that made me not feel so bad was she was old.”

Scene of the crash in Hempstead (Photo/CBS 2)

The victim’s son said that comment has remained a bitter pill to swallow.

“If this goes to trial, the public will see just how despicable and disgusting of a person she is,” Chauncey Twine said.

Once inside the courtroom, Gerdes began sobbing and rejected a guilty plea in favor of going through with a trial.

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Gerdes’ lawyer, John Lewis Jr., complained the plea deal wasn’t much of a deal at all. He said his client would rather take her chances with a jury.

Twine’s anguished family came to court hoping Gerdes would admit guilt.

“It’s been a complete nightmare. I mean I can’t even put into words just how painful dealing with this whole thing has been,” Chauncey Twine said.

Gerdes’ mother also told reporters Tuesday that she was “very devastated” and “very heartbroken for the family.”

Prosecutors said Gerdes was speeding and high on Xanax and oxycodone when she lost control of the van she was driving and drove 100 feet onto Twine’s lawn.

Gerdes’ lawyer said his client has “always been remorseful.”

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“The media made her out to be a monster and she’s not. She’s just a confused young girl,” Lewis said.

Jennifer McLogan