Six teenagers were involved in a violent crash with stolen vehicles and a stranger’s car, killing three of the boys. Combined the teenagers had been arrested 126 times over the past few years.
Keondraw Brown, 14 and two other boys are lucky to be alive after the collision in Palm Harbor, Florida. They could face murder charges in the deaths of the three other boys: Keontae Brown, 16; Jimmie Goshey, 14; and Dejarae Thomas, 16, Tampa Bay Times reported.
Bob Gualtieri, sheriff of Pinellas County said that more serious charges need to be given, referencing the high number of juvenile car thefts in Pinellas County.
“We have a serious problem and something else needs to happen,” he said at a news conference Monday, Aug. 7.
Gualtieri criticized the juvenile justice system for being too lenient and not holding teenagers in long enough. He pointed to the teens’ lengthy criminal records as proof.
“These kids couldn’t have cared less about their crimes,” he said. “When there’s no consequence and no fear of consequence, you end up with kids who get arrested 126 times,” he said.
The teenage boys involved were between the ages of 14 and 18.
The sheriff said a Ford Explorer and a Chrysler Sebring were stolen from a Clearwater car dealership on Thursday, Aug. 3. Both vehicles were seen by deputies Sunday morning as they tried to stop the drivers of the cars but they did not pursue them as policy forbids deputies to chase stolen cars, according to the Florida Times Union.
The Explorer had four teens seated inside, while the Chrysler had two.
The sheriff said the two cars were competing against each other, going fast at one point and then slowing down at another. He said the cars hit speeds of more than 100 mph.
Even though police did not initiate a high-speed chase, the Explorer continued to drive at speeds around 120 mph when it hit another vehicle, catching fire and flying into the air before hitting a billboard pole.
The driver that was hit by the Explorer luckily only suffered non life-threatening injuries, Gualtieri said.
Police then found the other car, the Chrysler, and arrested the two teens in that car. The one surviving teen in the Explorer is also being charged with grand theft auto and is in stable condition at the hospital.
The two teens in the Chrysler that did not crash—Deyon Kaigler, 16, and Kamal Campbell, 18—appeared in court on Monday facing charges of auto theft and resisting arrest. Campbell was held on $25,000 bail and Deyon was sent to the Juvenile Detention Center for the maximum 21 days.
Gualtieri said they are seeing if they can charge the three teens with first-degree murder, citing the state’s felony murder rule: If a person directly contributed to the death of a victim while committing a felony, the person can be charged with murder.
“It’s frustrating because it’s an epidemic of what has been, and continues to occur in Pinellas County,” Gualtieri said. “The juvenile justice system is not working, there’s not enough consequence, and there’s no fear of consequence.”
He said the teens in the incident were already being monitored under a program for repeat offenders. Two of the boys are brothers.
According to an investigation by the Tampa Bay Times, police in Pinellas made 499 felony arrests for juvenile auto theft, which is more than any other county in Florida and even more than the most populous counties in the United States.