Local News

Trial Of Teen Accused In I-540 Deaths To Begin Monday

Posted June 23, 2004

— In 2001, four teenagers died in a car crash on Interstate 540 days before their high school graduation. It has taken three years for investigators and the district attorney to file charges and bring someone to trial. On Monday, jurors will decide if someone will be responsible for the accident.

Irma Reaves has planted a garden in memory of her son, Bryan. It has been three years since her son crashed on I-540, killing Bryan and three friends. Investigators said they were racing another car driven by Chris Petersen. Petersen will stand trial on four charges of involuntary manslaughter.

"I don't want revenge. I just want justice," Reaves said.

Rick Gammon, Petersen's attorney, said state witnesses have told police two different stories.

"It's our position that he was not racing," Gammon said. "It's a tragic accident and it's unfortunate that four people were killed in the accident, but we don't believe Chris Petersen should be held criminally responsible."

"Bryan was as much to blame as Chris, but it takes two to race and Chris has totally denied everything," Reaves said.

Reaves hopes the trial sends a message to teens that racing is not worth the thrill.

"No matter what the outcome of this trial is, Chris Petersen gets a second chance. Bryan does not," she said.

If convicted, Petersen could be sentenced to two years in prison for each charge for a total of eight years. The trial starts Monday and is expected to last about a week.

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