Jury finds driver guilty of lesser offense in teen's crash death

Justin Amorin
Justin Amorin
Michaele Badua
Michaele Badua
Deputy Prosecutor Sean Sanada
Deputy Prosecutor Sean Sanada

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - A young driver, charged in a crash that killed a Mililani teen two years ago, avoided a manslaughter conviction Thursday. After a half-day of deliberations, jurors found Justin Amorin guilty of a much lesser offense.

Family members of the teenaged girl who died in the fiery crash say they're devastated by the jury's decision.

Charged with manslaughter after a 2007 car crash, Justin Amorin is found guilty of the lesser offense of second-degree negligent homicide.

"Something is totally wrong with this," Michaele Badua, crash victim's mother, said through tears.

Prosecutors argued Amorin's car was traveling on Lanikuhana Avenue at a phenomenal speed -- at least 80 miles per hour in a 25-mile-per-hour zone -- when it spun out of control, jumped a curb, slammed into a tree and burst into flames.

"We're very, very disappointed in the verdict today," Sean Sanada, deputy prosecutor, said. "The verdict doesn't appear to mesh well with the evidence that was presented."

The back-seat passenger, Gillian Badua, 17, was pinned in the wreckage and died. The front-seat passenger, Gavin Watson, 17, was thrown from the car, spent 41 days in a coma and was partially paralyzed.

Jurors also convict Amorin of second-degree assault for Watson's injuries. Each count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

"He was so reckless going almost three times the speed limit and this defendant gets five years for killing my daughter," Michaele Badua said through tears. "That's so wrong. I will never see her again."

A second driver, whom prosecutors believe was racing Amorin, is awaiting his manslaughter trial.

Amorin and his family have no comment as they leave the courthouse.

"It's nothing compared to the sadness and the emptiness that he bestowed upon our family," Michaele Badua said.

Manslaughter carries a 20-year prison term.

Prosecutors say they want Amorin to serve five years for the negligent homicide and five years for the assault separately. Sentencing is set for November 30th.