Archive for Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Buttons honor fatality accident victim

Defendant in wreck that killed Amanda Bixby scheduled to go before judge

June 27, 2007

Amanda Bixby's smiling face graces the front of a simple button, three-toned in black, light green and red.

Above her picture reads "Amanda Kate Bixby." Below, it says "1987-2007."

It's a simple reminder of a Tonganoxie woman whose life ended Valentine's Day in a three-vehicle accident near Basehor.

But it's a reminder that will be seen again and again today at the Leavenworth County Justice Center.

Dennis Bixby, Amanda's father, had 50 of the buttons made for his daughter's supporters.

At 8:30 a.m. in Leavenworth County District Courtroom I, Amanda's supporters will be in attendance for the court appearance of 20-year-old Ricardo DeLeon Flores. The night of Feb. 14, according to sheriff's reports, Flores failed to yield at a stop sign on 158th Street and headed north across U.S. Highway 24-40, striking a Dodge Durango and then Bixby's Ford Taurus. Bixby was returning to Tonganoxie from Nebraska Furniture Mart, where she was employed.

Flores will appear today for several traffic violations: excessive speed, failure to yield, driving through a stop sign and having no valid driver's license.

Dennis Bixby said he and his wife, Denise, expected fellow members of Tonganoxie Christian Church to be at the courtroom, but he was unsure how many people would attend.

"I know a number of people from our church who said they plan on being there," Bixby said. "I really don't know how many to expect at this point.

"It could be a handful. I underestimated Amanda's funeral and look how many people turned out for that. I just have no way of knowing."

Leavenworth County Attorney Frank Kohl decided against pursuing a vehicular homicide charge against Flores because of a 2002 Kansas Supreme Court ruling. In State of Kansas v. Bala Krovvidi, the court ruled that the mere fact that a driver ran a red light or a stop sign did not satisfy the legal elements required for a vehicular homicide conviction.

"Based upon current Kansas law, it requires more than simply running a stop sign to get a vehicular homicide conviction," Kohl said in February.

Dennis Bixby is hoping to change Kansas law. He has been working with Rep. Kenny Wilk, R-Lansing, and Sen. Roger Pine, R-Lawrence, on updating legislation. Both legislators advised Bixby that he would be called to testify at the Capitol in Topeka during the summer session.

Today however, is about Flores' court date. Bixby said it's something his family must attend, not out of hope for revenge. Rather, it must be done, Bixby said, in remembrance of his daughter.

"This is just another thing that we have to do in the life of our daughter; every little thing we have to do is necessary," Bixby said. "We have to do that.

"But it's just hard. Hard in fact because she's gone."

Bixby also spoke about the accident taking its toll on Katelynn Witt, a 16-year-old Basehor girl who was one of five people in the Dodge Durango that Flores' vehicle initially hit.

Witt suffered a severe foot injury in the accident.

"She's a fighter and she'll handle it well I'm sure," Bixby said. "Our struggles are simple in some ways because Amanda's in a better place, but for the people left behind, that's the tough part."

Bixby declined to speculate about how the judge will rule on Flores' traffic violations, but stressed "my goal here tomorrow is not vengeance, but it is justice."

And, although his family and the rest of Amanda's supporters might be upset with today's outcome, he said they would not cause an uproar.

"We're not like that," Bixby said. "That's not how Christ would want us to act."

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