Woman Charged With Killing Motorcycle Rider

Suspect Accused Of Using Cellphone During Accident

The woman who slammed into a motorcycle rider in the northwest is being charged with vehicular manslaughter involving gross negligence, and the District Attorney's Office said that negligence stems from the use of a cellphone.

Authorities say Charla Wilkins was killed by a woman who was using her cellphone while behind the wheel.

Wilkin's friends say they are relieved that an arrest was finally made.

"She took the life of my best friend; I can't get her back," said Amanda Nash.

Nash and Wilkins were roommates, but friends say they were more like sisters. Nash has a memorial set up for Wilkins in her garage where pictures and memorabilia keep her memory alive.

"She loved to ride. It wasn't only her transportation, it was her life. Whenever she crashed, she always got back up on her bike," said Nash.

Wilkins was killed back in April while on her bike. She was stopped at an intersection when 20 year-old Anna Marie Reynosa struck her from behind, according to the charges. Authorities say Reynosa was using her cellphone without a hands-free device and speeding.

"This should not have happened. People have to understand that with all these electronic devices, it does not make you safer. To be playing with your GPS or your cellphone while driving can lead to tragic results," said Michael Yraceburn, deputy district attorney.

The DA's office said this is possibly the first time in Kern County they have filed adult charges of vehicular manslaughter caused by gross negligence.

"I miss her. I think about her every day. A few friends and I go out to where she was killed; we light candles for her quite often and remember all the good times," said Nash.

Friends and family have been concerned about the length of time it took for Reynosa to be charged with Wilkins' death. The DA's office said that was part of the process for a thorough investigation.

"We looked at this case very carefully. We have a process we went through to determine what the appropriate charges were, and based on that, we issued a complaint yesterday, and she was arrested this morning" said Yraceburn.

If convicted, Reynosa could face a maximum term of six years in prison. She is expected to make her first court appearance next week.

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