Victim's Coworkers React to Vehicular Homicide Indictment - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

04/20/06

Victim's Coworkers React to Vehicular Homicide Indictment

The suspects in a February court appearance. The suspects in a February court appearance.

Two illegal immigrants are facing homicide charges. Yesterday, a Chatham County grand jury indicted Jesus Perez and Felix Maldanado, seen here in an earlier court appearance in Garden City, in the death of LaToya Holloway.

Investigators say the two men were in a sport utility vehicle heading north on Ogeechee Road on February 17. Perez was driving but Maldanado grabbed the wheel, swerving the SUV across the center line. It slammed into Holloway's car. She died at the hospital.

Both men are facing several charges, the most serious being vehicular homicide. The fact that they're illegal immigrants brings added challenges to the prosecution and defense, not to mention the language barrier.

"It's almost always necessary to bring in an interpreter," said said public defender Michael Edwards. "What we discover frequently, even with people who are Spanish speaking, there are dialect issues, regional language issues."

Edwards says bond can also be an issue, since someone illegally in the country could be a flight risk.

LaToya Holloway's coworkers and friends welcomed the news of Perez and Maldonado's indictments. WTOC spoke with several of them this afternoon. It's bringing up some very strong emotions for them, but they want these two men to go to trial and to see justice served for the sake of Holloway.

More than two months have passed since Holloway walked through the doors of a Circle K convenience store on US Highway 17, but her coworkers there haven't forgotten her. They created a memorial on Highway 17 at the site of the crash which took her life, and her memory stays with them still.

"She was very sweet and very outgoing and very concerned about taking care of everybody," said coworker Brittney Ross.

What Ross and her coworkers say they want now is justice for the men accused of taking her life. Learning that  Maldonado and Perez were both indicted for drunk driving and vehicular homicide came as a relief.

"That's good," said Connie Campfield. "Something needs to happen. Out here at the store, we lost an employee, a loved one. At first, I thought nothing was going to happen, so I'm glad something happened about it."

"I want them to go to jail and pay for what they did," said Ross.

Those feelings extend to their customers, like Joseph Hankerson, who still wears a T-shirt bearing her image.

"I think that's good, because she meant a lot to everybody who came into the store and just stopped by," Hankerson said. "She was always smiling and she was doing really good in life and it was sad how that happened to her."

The trial hasn't been set for Maldonado and Perez, yet. Of course, we'll continue to follow this developing story and bring you the latest.

Reported by: Liz Flynn, lflynn@wtoc.com

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