May 23 2017
FOREST GROVE, Ore. (KPTV) -- The Oregon Court of Appeals has reversed the conviction of a woman who hit and killed two girls playing in a pile of leaves in Forest Grove in 2013.
In a decision filed Wednesday, the appeals court ruled the trial court "erred" in denying a motion for acquittal for Cinthya Garcia-Cisneros.
A jury convicted Garcia-Cisneros on two counts of failure to perform the duties of a driver to injured persons in January 2014.
Garcia-Cisneros was sentenced to probation and community service, but no time in prison.
Garcia-Cisneros was arrested in October 2013 in connection with the deaths of 11-year-old Abigail Robinson and 6-year-old Anna Dieter-Eckerdt.
Garcia-Cisneros drove her boyfriend's SUV through a leaf pile on Main Street in Forest Grove and felt a "bump," according to court documents.
Garcia-Cisneros, then 18 years old, told investigators it felt like a pothole and passengers in the car assumed it was a log or a rock.
After arriving home a few blocks away, they looked at the front of the SUV and did not see any damage.
Court documents state Garcia-Cisneros' brother then rode his bike toward his girlfriend's home and saw the father of Abigail and Anna screaming near the pile of leaves. Anna was pronounced dead at the scene and Abigail died the next day at the hospital.
Garcia-Cisneros' brother turned around and told her that she had hit the girls. Court documents state she did not believe him at first, but then began to cry and hyperventilate.
Her boyfriend drove the SUV to a car wash and then to his house to protect her, according to court documents, but police received a tip about Garcia-Cisneros crying and two men examining the SUV.
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At the time of her arrest, police said Garcia-Cisneros had "made no effort" to contact the family of the victims or law enforcement.
At trial, Garcia-Cisneros' attorney moved for an acquittal, saying the state failed to prove she knew the incident resulted in injuries while she was at the scene of the crash, adding Oregon law does not require a driver to return to the scene of an accident after learning someone was hurt.
That motion was denied, which the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled was a mistake. The appeals court stated Oregon law, "does not require a defendant to return to the scene of the accident after he or she has left the scene and later learns that he or she was involved in an accident that injured or killed another person."
"In this case, it is undisputed that defendant did not know that she had hit two people until after she had driven away from the scene of the accident and arrived at her house," according to court documents.
Garcia-Cisneros was taken into U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody after her conviction in 2014. ICE reported that she was being placed in "removal proceedings." However, her case was dismissed by an immigration judge in August 2014 and she was released from ICE custody.
Her boyfriend, Mario Echeverria, pleaded guilty to the charge of hindering prosecution and was sentenced to 13 months in prison in December 2013. He was also 18 years old at the time.
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