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As boy is mourned, St. Petersburg police start investigation of 14-year-old driver

ST. PETERSBURG — Stuffed animals filled the hole in the concrete wall where 5-year-old Kevon Wilson died.

Smiley-face balloons, bubbles and caution tape tossed in the wind as loved ones gathered for a candlelight vigil Thursday evening.

Sitting in white plastic lawn chairs in an empty parking spot, Kevon's mother and father wept. Outside, St. Petersburg police officers kept watch.

"That's my baby," cried his mother, Sikkina Wilson, 22. "It's hard, man. It's hard."

The mourners met 24 hours after the car crash that left Kevon dead, a 14-year-old driver under investigation and residents of an apartment complex reeling with grief.

On Thursday, St. Petersburg police released new details about the crash.

Kevon was hanging out in the parking lot of the Pinellas Point Apartments at 2175 62nd Place S with friends Wednesday evening when a 14-year-old girl, who neighbors say is a student at Thurgood Marshall Middle School, got the keys to her mother's car. The girl said she wanted to get some books out of the car.

Police say the girl instead started the Volkswagen Cabrio and backed out of the parking spot with a friend in the passenger seat. Kevon and 8-year-old Jacquez Dawson were between the front of the car and a small wall as the girl backed out.

Police say the girl then shifted into drive and suddenly accelerated into the parking space, striking the boys. Jacquez was slightly injured, and Kevon died as he was pinned against the wall.

Jacquez's grandmother, Rose Wainwright, said in an interview that the girl struck the boys with the car twice.

The girl then panicked and sped backward, the car came to rest with its back wheels on top of a planter, police said. Witnesses said the girl's 13-year-old passenger ran away.

Police are not releasing the driver's name because they say doing so could hinder their criminal investigation. The girl is too young for a driver's license or learner's permit.

"She was driving a vehicle without a driver's license, and she was in a crash that resulted in a death," police spokesman Bill Proffitt said. "We have to investigate that."

The girl's family could not be reached for comment.

Robert Batey, a professor of criminal law at Stetson University College of Law, said the girl could face a range of charges, such as manslaughter or reckless driving, depending on the evidence and the situation.

"It's a classic example of a situation where the prosecutor has discretion," Batey said.

Although the accident took place on private property, police say that has no impact on their investigation.

Kevon's grandmother on his father's side said she feels for the family of the teen.

"That's somebody's child, and being a grandparent, I understand," said Ernestine McCrone. "This is a person here who has to live with this for the rest of her life."

Kevon's mother hopes the girl doesn't go unpunished.

"I'm left with nothing, and I can't let it go like that," Wilson said. "You can't just let a person walk away."

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Abhi Raghunathan can be reached at araghunathan@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8472.

As boy is mourned, St. Petersburg police start investigation of 14-year-old driver 05/29/08 [Last modified: Thursday, June 5, 2008 12:35pm]
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