PHOENIX — A Valley mother is choosing to show compassion rather than hatred towards the teenager who killed her daughter.
Crystal Garcia, 27, died on New Year's Day after being involved in a car accident near 38th Street and Greenway Road. Authorities arrested Jaxon Collins, 18, who is accused of driving nearly 90 mph.
Police believe Collins was drunk at the time of the collision.
“I’m not trying to lock this person up for the rest of [his life],” said Lorena Garcia, Crystal's mom. “I’m a mom and he has to have parents and they’re hurting too.”
Crystal's three children, ages 8, 5, and 6 months old, and husband were also in the vehicle, but they survived. The 5-year-old suffered a fractured pelvis and clavicle.
Public records show Collins allegedly had a blood-alcohol level of 0.176 at the time of the crash, which is twice above the legal limit.
Data extracted from the suspect’s vehicle showed Collins was driving at a speed of 89 mph five seconds before the accident, court records show. One second before the impact the speed was reduced to 81 mph, but Collins was allegedly going 63 mph in his Ford SUV when he hit the family’s Nissan.
During Collins's initial court appearance early Wednesday morning, his attorney Adam Feldman said the suspect didn’t intend to cause a crash.
“These incidents are awful… however they are unintended,” Feldman said. “He has no criminal history, he just graduated high school, he was working, [and] he was living with his father.”
During his initial interview with detectives, Collins allegedly stated he had consumed two beers and had made out with an intoxicated woman prior to driving when the collision occurred, court records show.
Collins was initially released by police after the crash but has since been booked into jail on charges of manslaughter, endangerment, and aggravated assault.
Hope in the justice system
The now single father of three, Francisco Murrieta, said he was glad to see that justice is taking its course and Collins was apprehended.
“It’s a sense of relief because it’s a step in the right direction,” he said. “Now there’s no more stressing that he was released… it’s a big weight off our shoulders.
Murrieta sent a letter to the judge during Collins’ initial court appearance with a message for the suspect.
“The only thing I let him know is that ‘you took my best friend, you took the mother of my children, you took a sister, you took a daughter away,” he said.
The couple were high school sweethearts and had been together for nearly 10 years.
Despite the unimaginable pain, the family said they are focusing their energy on the three little kids that were left without a mother.
“I don’t want to do that, be consumed by how many years he will face,” the victim’s mother said. “I’m focusing on my children and being a good grandma.”
If you would like to help the family with funeral expenses, they have made a GoFundMe account.