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Gerdes faces 28 charges in fatal Hempstead crash

Kayla Gerdes is brought out of Nassau County

Kayla Gerdes is brought out of Nassau County police headquarters in Mineola to be arraigned on Wednesday on charges of vehicular manslaughter. (April 21, 2010) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Kayla Gerdes, the Freeport woman who police say was high when she fatally ran over a woman mowing her lawn in April, has been indicted on 28 charges, including second-degree manslaughter, Nassau County authorities said Tuesday.

A grand jury returned the 28-count indictment, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced in the release. Authorities say Gerdes was high on prescription painkillers when she drove onto the front lawn of a Hempstead home, killing Rebecca Twine.

"This defendant was focused on nothing else but getting high, and now an innocent woman has been violently killed," Rice said in a statement.

Gerdes, 18, is charged with second-degree manslaughter and second-degree vehicular manslaughter, operating a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs, operating a motor vehicle while impaired by the combined use of drugs, reckless endangerment, eight counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, four counts of forgery, five counts of criminal possession of stolen property, three counts of unlawful possession of marijuana, criminal possession of forgery devices, reckless driving and operating a motor vehicle without a license.

Gerdes's lawyer said the upgraded charges were expected. "It doesn't change anything," said John R. Lewis Jr. of Farmingdale.

"Gerdes was also found to be in possession of a stolen doctor's prescription pad and a pill bottle containing 22 Oxycodone pills and 29 Xanax pills," Rice's office said in the release.

Gerdes faces a maximum of 59 years in prison if convicted, according to the release.

On April 20, at about 9:40 a.m., "Gerdes was driving a van south on Cathedral Avenue when she swerved onto the front lawn, striking and killing" Twine, 69, the release said. Calls to Twine's family were not immediately returned Tuesday.

Gerdes was initially arrested on charges of manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, driving while under the influence of drugs and driving without a license.

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