POSTED: Sunday, December 22, 2013 - 12:00pm
UPDATED: Sunday, December 22, 2013 - 12:04pm
Hillsboro, OR (KPTV) — A Cornelius teenager is heading to prison for his role in the hit-and-run crash that killed two Forest Grove sisters.
During an emotional Thursday afternoon hearing, Mario Echeverria, 18, pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence.
According to prosecutors, Echeverria was a passenger in the SUV his girlfriend, Cynthia Garcia-Cisneros, drove over Anna Dieter-Eckerdt, 6, and Abigail Robinson, 11, who were hidden in a pile of leaves.
They heard a loud bump, but continued driving to Garcia-Cisneros' home on the next block, said prosecutors.
The girls' father, Tom Robinson, had stepped inside their house to return a camera when he heard the crash.
According to Washington County prosecutor Bracken McKey, Echeverria took the Nissan Pathfinder that hit the girls to a car wash to get rid of evidence in order to protect his girlfriend.
He paid for the deluxe treatment, which included washing the undercarriage of the vehicle, said McKey.
There were very few dry eyes in the Washington County courtroom as Susan Dieter-Robinson, Anna's mother and Abigail's stepmother, addressed the judge.
"All I wanted was to touch her once, kiss her forehead, tell her I love her more than anything. I just wanted to hold her one last time," she said.
Dieter-Robinson described waiting hours for investigators to process the crash scene so she could hold her daughter, only for the medical examiner to decide they needed to preserve evidence.
"My chance to kiss my girl one last time was gone because the person who caused this accident did not come back to the scene," she said.
Dieter-Robinson said she had her own choice to make.
She turned to Echeverria.
"I choose forgiveness, I forgive you," she said. "I choose this for my girls in heaven because I told them we need to forgive just like Jesus forgives us."
Echeverria wiped tears from his eyes as he apologized.
"I do want to say that I deeply regret the choices that I made that night," he said.
The judge sentenced him to 13 months in prison, with two years of post-prison supervision.
The crash was a tragic accident, said McKey, that might not have resulted in any criminal charges if the suspects had returned to the scene.
Garcia-Cisneros remains in jail, awaiting her Jan. 7 trial.