Man found guilty of driving recklessly fleeing police, killing 5-year old boy
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) —
Guilty— that’s the verdict on four of five counts in an emotional court case involving a five-year old crash victim.
A jury on Wednesday determined Lex Eugene’s recklessly hit and killed Jayden Readon as walked with his great-grandparents and brother.
“Oh, my God,” said Marisellla Readon, the victim’s mother, breaking into sobs in the hallway after the hearing.
“My JC, that boy was live-spirited,” she said. “He was a beautiful life.”
The six jurors deliberated for four-and-a-half hours before finding Eugene, now 23, guilty of vehicular homicide, fleeing and eluding causing death, driving with no license, and resisting officers.
The panel returned a not guilty verdict on the count of leaving the scene of a fatal crash, which prosecutors say is more difficult to prove following a recent change in the law.
Jayden’s family had faithfully attended court hearings since the tragedy unfolded in February 2016 along Miner Road near Boynton Beach.
Officers with Boynton Police said they pursued Eugene after he committed a series of dangerous traffic maneuvers, weaved through traffic and drove at a high rate of speed.
After turning onto Miner Road with police behind him, Eugene passed more cars and tried make an abrupt turn down a side street when he lost control, hitting Jayden.
Prosecutors said after hitting the boy, Eugene drove across a field, coming to a stop at a fence. Then, police said Eugene ran from his SUV until officers caught up and used a stun device to apprehend him.
After the verdicts were announced, Judge Glenn Kelley ordered that Eugene remain in custody and set April 2 as his sentencing date.
Eugene still faces additional drug possession counts as part of the same traffic homicide case. Kelley set a Feb. 15 status check to address those charges.
He's already facing up to 51 years in prison based on Wednesday’s guilty verdicts and prosecutors said Eugene will likely be designated a Prison Releasee Reoffender.
Eugene finished serving a one-year prison sentence for drug charges, just two months before the crash.
Prosecutors said the prison release designation will impact sentencing guidelines the judge will consider.
Jayden’s mother said she looked forward to Eugene’s sentencing, hoping for a greater sense of closure.
“I would never want anyone to experience that, you know, it’s not easy,” she said, fighting tears. “And I know going forward, it won’t be easy either.”