A distracted driver walks free while the victim's family is left feeling justice was not served

MEMORIAL: Rose David fixes the flowers at the makeshift memorial set up for her grandson, Jericho Zion David, 4. The child died after he was hit by a car in front of his home on May 7, 2019. Post file photo

Jericho Zion David was a 4-year-old boy with a big smile.

On May 7, 2019, a young woman who was backing out of the driveway of a house just across from the boy's home was not paying attention to safety as she was entering the asphalt roundabout shared by a few families that live in the cul-de-sac.

This woman, Marleen Risa Ewily, 24 at the time, attempted to retrieve pugua – betel nut – as she was backing up into the cul-de-sac, according to court documents in her case.

She was so distracted that she only felt a bump and didn't know at first she had just taken the life of little Jericho.

Jericho was just steps from his house.  

Ewily told authorities she had no idea what had happened. She attempted to render assistance to the boy when she realized the little boy had been fatally crushed under the car she was driving.

The area where it happened in Dededo, called Mangga Court, does not see motorists passing through. It is a dead end. The neighborhood had offered – until the tragedy – a sense of safety. No motorists drove through the neighborhood unless they lived there or were visiting the few families in the area. There were bouncies and bikes outside of houses in this neighborhood.

Surveillance camera footage from the boy's home showed that David tripped. As he was getting up, he saw a car approaching and signaled for the car to stop, but the vehicle struck him near where his dad was installing canopies for a birthday party, Post files state.

The little boy became Guam's 10th traffic fatality in 2019. He would have turned 6 this year.

The loss of Jericho came back to people's memories Monday when the driver returned to court.

Ewily appeared before Judge Maria Cenzon to enter her guilty plea. She admitted to vehicular homicide.

The plea agreement calls for a five-year prison sentence that she will not have to serve because all of it will be suspended.  

She was placed on three years of supervised probation.

Her driving privileges have been revoked for five years.

Rose David, the grandmother of Jericho, said the family is still hurting. The grandma was in the house the day the boy died. She said Jericho was watching TV when the boy, for an unknown reason, ran outside, she said in a previous interview.

The case's outcome has led the grandma to question our system of justice.

"Even though it bothers us, we really can't do anything. It's hurting us as of right now. It's very hard for us to take," David said. "It's wrong and that's why sometimes the law is wrong."

David said the punishment does not fit the crime.

"It's in God's hands even if I am not OK. Even if it's wrong, we know that it is up to the law. We just have to pray we will see him. I will see him again," she said. "Yes, we have to forgive. But what else can we do?" 

The punishment or lack of it does fall short, considering the little boy was killed as he tried to signal the driver to stop. 

This was no busy street. It was the boy's neighborhood enclave. The boy was run over just steps from his home.

If the driver had been careful, Jericho would have had a chance of living after he tripped.

Now, only the driver who committed vehicular homicide gets to move on with her life.

That's not fair.


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