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Arianna Colon guilty on all counts in 2021 hit-and-run crash that killed 10-year-old girl

Colon testifies during trial that she thought she hit pothole
Arianna Colon testifies during hit-and-run trial, Jan. 25, 2024
Posted at 1:56 PM, Jan 25, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-25 22:47:38-05

FORT PIERCE, Fla. — A woman charged in a 2021 hit-and-run crash that left a 10-year-old girl dead has been found guilty on all charges.

Arianna Colon was convicted Thursday on charges of leaving the scene of a crash involving death and vehicular homicide.

Colon sat still between her attorneys as the verdict was read in court.

The last person to testify before closing arguments was Colon, now 25. 

Colon, who was 22 at the time, said she didn't see the bus lights from afar and said she didn't see any children around the bus, so when she hit 10-year-old Yaceny Rodriguez-Gonzalez, she said she thought she hit a pothole. Colon also said she didn't attempt to brake because she didn't see anything in front of her that would cause her to do so.

Yaceny Berenice Rodriguez-Gonzalez, 10, and car involved in deadly Fort Pierce hit-and-run crash on Sept. 23, 2021.jpg
Yaceny Berenice Rodriguez-Gonzalez, 10, and the car involved in the deadly Fort Pierce hit-and-run crash on Sept. 23, 2021.

Colon testified that when she got home, she saw damage to her car and then later saw the news and was going to turn herself in. 

"I wanted to kill myself, and if no one was in my house that morning I would have done it," Colon said.

During cross-examination, the prosecutor argued that Colon did know that she hit the girl and that phone calls she made to her boyfriend and a mechanic shortly after the crash prove it, as well as internet searches Colon made, including "breaking news near me" soon after the crash. 

Colon was also questioned about text messages that she sent to her mechanic friend. They included: "I'm (expletive) freaking out," "People are going to see my car and say something," "I can't wait for after hours, a (expletive) cop lives above me," "This is going to kill me," and "I'm paranoid my neighbors are looking at the car freaking out."

Colon's defense attorney, Jerome Stone, waived his closing arguments, telling WPTV he didn't want the state to get a chance to counter his closing statements and further drive home a message of guilt to the jury.

Stone also said he was surprised at the verdict and believed the evidence presented in court shows Colon didn't knowingly leave the scene.

"It's a sad case on either side," Stone said. "She obviously is looking at prison time. She has two kids."

A tearful Marilu Gonzalez shares her thoughts after Arianna Colon was convicted in the death of her daughter.
A tearful Marilu Gonzalez shares her thoughts after Arianna Colon was convicted in the death of her daughter.

Following the trial's conclusion, the mother of Yaceny Rodriguez-Gonzalez, Marilu Gonzalez, broke down in tears and hugged her family and friends tightly.

"It took two years and four months of waiting to bring justice. Because of what happened to my daughter, I have deep pain that I do not wish on anyone. It's something that breaks me down every day. Every moment I remember that very day," Gonzalez said. "I live day and night with that."

Gonzalez said she was thankful for everyone who helped prosecute her case. When asked if she was pleased with the verdict, she once again broke down in tears.

"We are grateful for everyone because she (Yaceny) was grateful for everything," Gonzalez said. "But I cannot be happy. My heart is so broken, so sad."

The judge denied Stone's request to grant Colon bail. She'll remain in prison until her sentencing.

The assistant district attorney prosecuting the case, Justin Miller, said he couldn't comment as to whether the state will seek the maximum penalty but said he's thankful for the jurors and their verdict.

"We're hopeful based on this verdict that the family can begin the very difficult process of healing," Miller, who added several family members will likely testify during the sentencing, said.

Colon's sentencing is set for March 12. The maximum penalty she could receive is 45 years in prison.