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Alyssa Stark, the driver in a U.S. 131 fatal crash, sentenced to 90 days in jail

Alyssa Stark.bmp

A Grand Rapids woman who originally faced felony charges and up to 15 years in prison in a crash that killed a teenager was sentenced to 90 days in jail on two misdemeanor charges Wednesday.

Alyssa Stark admitted in court to getting high before the deadly crash on U.S. 131 in Wayland Township on March 19.

“It was a mockery of justice; I think justice was not served here,” said Bianca Bland, who survived the crash that killed her cousin.

“I remember yelling and begging her to wake up and talk to me, just to breathe,” Bland said.

15-year-old Alexis Brown-Johnson was ejected from the car and died at the scene.

“I didn't just lose my daughter I lost my entire life,” said Elizabeth King, Brown-Johnson’s mother.

She brought a necklace containing some of her daughter’s ashes to court, and presented it to Stark. King explained, “I want Alyssa to think every day of her life before she makes another choice that takes somebody's life.”

King asked the judge to go beyond the maximum penalty of one year behind bars, to put Stark away for two years.

Stark was initially charged with two felonies—operating while intoxicated causing death, and operating while intoxicated causing serious injury—but those charges were dismissed as part of a plea deal.

Allegan County Prosecutor Rob Kengis says his office agreed to less serious charges after the defense attorney presented “credible evidence” that something else –not the marijuana in the Stark’s system—caused the deadly crash.

Now 21, Stark pleaded guilty to operating while intoxicated and no contest to a moving violation causing death. A no contest plea is not considered an admission of guilt, but is still treated by the court as a conviction.

Given the opportunity to speak before sentencing, Stark told the judge she was arguing with her friend who was in the front seat of the car just before the crash.

Stark claims the front seat passenger, 19-year-old Taliyah Zziwambazza, of Kentwood, grabbed the steering wheel and that’s when the car went off the highway and rolled into a ditch.

Bland said that Stark kept grabbing at the front seat passenger, but she isn’t sure exactly what happened right before the driver lost control.

The judge suggested if someone did grab the wheel, Stark could have stayed on the highway if she did not have active THC in her system. The judge also noted Stark was put on probation for marijuana-related charges in 2014.

Appearing in Allegan County District Court on Wednesday, Stark was sentenced to 90 days in jail and 18-24 months of probation.

“It's like I wake up and I'm empty inside, it's like you've taken away the biggest part of me,” Bland said about Stark.

Brown-Johnson’s family was stunned by the sentence, beyond disappointed the group left court in tears wearing ‘Justice for Lexi’ t-shirts.

King said she doesn’t think her 15-year-old daughter will ever get the justice she deserves.

The prosecutor says charges could be filed against other people who in the car that night but the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department has not reopened its investigation into the cause of the crash.

According to the Undersheriff, no one can be charged at this time because of conflicting stories from the survivors of the crash.


For continuing coverage, tune in to Newschannel 3 and return to WWMT.com.



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