UTICA, NY - An accused drunk driver and a grieving family crossed paths in Oneida County Court Tuesday.
Greish Ortega-Lebron pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter and other charges, in the death of 20-year-old Jasmine Fitch last May.
The not guilty plea at this stage is expected. What felt unnatural and offensive to victim Jasmine Fitch's family is the fact that, thanks to bail reform, Ortega-Lebron walked freely into and out of court today, just like they did.
"This girl is not in jail, no bail," said Barbara Cutler, Fitch's mother. "My daughter is in the grave and we're not getting any justice for this yet and it's tearing me apart. It's tearing my family apart."
Ortega-Lebron is accused of being drunk when she struck Fitch and her boyfriend, Travis Carpenter, as they rode their bicycles on Black River Boulevard in Rome. Fitch's family wore T-shirts with her picture on them to court Tuesday, saying, "Justice for Jasmine". They spoke, through tears, of dreams that would never be realized.
"She was the first of us girls to go to college and everybody was so proud of her. She wanted to be a lawyer. She would have been a great lawyer. The people that she looked up to, I hope they can get something for her. Some kind of justice," said Fitch's sister, Janine Bristol.
Ortega-Lebron is accused of being drunk when she struck Fitch and Carpenter. The judge put some conditions on her release.
"I'm also going to ask the probation department to look into the availability and suitability of a scram bracelet for you while you're under their supervision. That's an alcohol monitoring device so that you are not utilizing alcohol while you're out, while your case is pending," said the Honorable Robert Bauer.
Ortega-Lebron is due back in court December 9th, at which time the judge will set additional court dates if there is no plea agreement.