Supporters pack courtroom for Cinthya Garcia and Mario Echeverria

The two teens involved in an Oct. 20 car accident that killed two Forest Grove sisters who were playing in a leaf pile appeared in court last Wednesday to be arraigned on a secret indictment from a grand jury.

Cinthya Garcia-Cisneros, the driver of the car which apparently hit the girls, faces two counts of “failure to perform the duties of a driver,” a class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

Garcia (she does not use the Cisneros part of her name) appeared by video from the Washington County Jail. The court raised her bail from $10,000 to $100,000, due to the severity of the charges.

If Garcia, 18, were to pay bail, she would simply be transferred to the federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency’s holding center in Tacoma, Wash., because she was brought to the U.S. illegally when she was 4 years old.

Garcia is now here legally due to President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action Childhood Arrival program, but that status would be revoked if she is convicted of felonies.

Attorney Noah Horst entered a not-guilty plea on behalf of Garcia and agreed to a pre-trial conference hearing at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12.

A contingent of nine hairstylists from the Northwest School of Beauty in Hillsboro arrived more than a half-hour early and waited quietly for the arraignment in order to support Garcia, who spent the past nine months training at the school. They were among nearly 40 people packing the courtroom, apparently in support of Garcia and her 18-year-old boyfriend, Mario Echeverria.

Echeverria himself arrived at least a half-hour early for the arraignment, surrounded by supporters who sat with him on a bench down the hallway from the courtroom. When TV news cameras arrived, one of his supporters stood up to shield him from view.

Echeverria eventually entered the courtroom of Judge Kristen Thompson, where he was charged with “hindering prosecution,” a class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. He also faces a charge of “tampering with physical evidence,” a class A misdemeanor.

Attorney Anne Tracey entered a not-guilty plea on behalf of Echeverria, who was released from jail Oct. 24. His pre-trial conference is scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday, Nov. 25.

At the pre-trial conferences, the district attorney might offer a plea deal, said Ethan Levi, lead attorney for Garcia. But most likely, “we won’t have the information we need to resolve the case,” he said. So the judge will set a trial date and each side will continue negotiating as the case moves toward trial.

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