The mother of the teen girl killed last week while allegedly racing another young driver on East Donovan Road pleaded with the court Wednesday for mercy for the 17-year-old charged in connection with Breanna Rodriguez’s death.
Isabel Rodriguez asked to speak during the Santa Maria Juvenile Court hearing for the teen charged with felony vehicular manslaughter and felony hit and run.
Rodriguez told the court she is not oblivious to the circumstances surrounding the tragedy.
“But it doesn’t change who my kid was, and it doesn’t change who (the other driver) is,” Rodriguez told Judge Arthur Garcia.
She called the teenager, whose name has not been released by police because of his age, “a good young man.”
“It breaks my heart to see him in here,” she added.
Santa Maria police said Breanna, 17, was leaving a basketball game Friday night at Pioneer Valley High School when she began racing with another vehicle, driven by the 17-year-old boy.
The Righetti High School senior lost control of her car, which slammed into a utility pole on Donovan Road, near Suey Crossing Road.
She was extricated from the wreckage and flown to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where she died from her injuries.
Two passengers in her vehicle also were injured.
The other driver stopped momentarily and then left the scene, police said.
He was arrested Saturday night and booked into Santa Maria Juvenile Hall.
Prosecutors filed two felony charges — vehicular manslaughter plus hit and run — against the Pioneer Valley High School student.
The boy remained in custody Wednesday, but his attorney asked during the hearing that he be released.
Along with his family, dozens of teens, many of them boys wearing dress shirts with ties, filled the courtroom for the hearing.
In asking for the boy’s release from Juvenile Hall, Deputy Public Defender Marian Amsbaugh told Garcia she had never seen 35 people show up in support of a client.
Deputy District Attorney Marina Santisteban opposed the release, and sought electronic monitoring.
“This is a very serious charge,” she said.
Garcia granted house arrest, telling the boy he could attend school, meet with his attorney and go to probation sessions, but otherwise is confined to his home. He isn’t allowed to have friends visit him at home and is banned from driving.
“It’s the same as being locked up in Juvenile Hall, but it’s at home — much nicer than the hall,” Garcia said.
Another hearing is scheduled for Friday afternoon regarding the creation of a suitability report by Probation Department staff.
The girl’s mother told the court that her daughter would not want someone else to suffer for her actions.
As she asked Garcia to show mercy for the teenage boy, Isabel Rodriguez added, “I understand that a lesson needs to be taught.”
Breanna had just started working on a video warning against reckless driving, and her family intends to continue the message, Isabel Rodriguez said.
She also urged the judge to allow the boy to attend Breanna’s service to speak about the consequences of reckless driving.
The memorial is planned for 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Pacific Christian Center, 3435 Santa Maria Way.
“That’s a very important message,” the judge said, adding that the boy’s attorney may not allow him to speak due to the charges he faces.
As she wrapped up her comments, Breanna’s mother spoke directly to the boy.
“I don’t feel it was your fault,” she told him. “I hope you don’t feel that way.”