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Juvenile gets 2 years in youth services for crash that killed 16-year-old girl


DENVER — A juvenile was sentenced Monday to two years in the Division of Youth Services (DYS) after taking a plea deal for his role in the crash that killed 16-year-old Lilyanna Miah Gunsaules.

Gunsaules who went by her middle name, Miah, died on June 5, 2023. She was described as funny, shy, and respectful.

“She [Miah] met a kid on Snapchat. She got into his vehicle, and he was intoxicated, driving very fast up Sheridan, hit a tree, car caught on fire,” said Miah’s mother, Shyla Combs. “He [the defendant] left and went to the hospital. His mom took him to the hospital and said he got beat up and never came forward.”

Combs was upset by the plea deal offered to the defendant in the case, which included out-of-home placement as an option at sentencing. Ultimately, the judge ruled the defendant be sentenced to DYS for two years.

Denver7 is not naming the driver since he is a juvenile.

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“The juvenile system is a joke,” Combs said. “You could do anything, and there’s no punishment, you know? And if they do punishment, it’s jail. There’s no helping them become a better person and do good things in their life.”

At the defendant’s sentencing on Monday, more than a dozen people who knew and loved Miah gave victim impact statements. One of Miah’s siblings said she does not want Miah’s death to be swept under the rug, and begged the judge to have the punishment fit the crime. Another individual who spoke told the defendant to “enjoy the slap on the wrist sentence. It’s going to be a slap in the face for all of us sitting here.”

Combs played a recorded version of her statement to the courtroom, saying the first time she saw the defendant all she could think was ‘he’s just a kid.’ She continued to say, “I don’t hate you. I hate that I don’t have her because of your terrible decision.”

Defense attorneys said the defendant was stoic, and actually did feel remorse for his choices that night. His brother told the courtroom he wished he had “the perfect words” to take away the pain of Miah’s loss, but he’s not sure they exist. He continued to say his brother, the defendant, does not laugh or smile like he once did.

The defendant addressed the courtroom as well, and spoke directly to Combs, saying, “I truly am sorry… I made a mistake that night.” He also said he would like to speak with Combs in private one day.

“I think he meant it,” said Combs about the defendant.

Combs would like to have that conversation, too.

“I wanted restorative justice. I wanted the conversation and, watching his family suffer didn’t make me feel good,” Combs said. “What meant the world to me was him looking at me and talking to me. That meant everything. Like, that’s what I wanted from the beginning.”

Despite the sentence, Combs did not walk out of the courthouse with closure, because nothing will ever bring back her daughter.

Juvenile gets 2 years in youth services for crash that killed 16-year-old girl


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