Special to the Times
The driver who struck and killed 5-year-old Adrianna Mejia-Rivera and her 2-month-old baby sister Natasha Nicole Mejia-Rivera in Revere in 2018 has pleaded guilty to motor vehicle homicide charges, Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins said.
During a change of plea hearing that was conducted today via Zoom, AUTUMN HARRIS, 43, of Beacon Hill pleaded guilty to two counts of negligent misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide. Suffolk Superior Court Judge Linda Giles sentenced Harris to a total term of 4.5 years in a House of correction, six months suspended and 4 years of probation following release and other conditions. Specifically, the defendant received 2.5 years in the Suffolk County House of Correction on one count of motor vehicle homicide. On the second count, Judge Giles sentenced Harris to a consecutive term of 2.5 years in the House of Correction, of which she will serve two years and the remainder will be suspended for a probationary term of four years. During that time, the defendant will be prohibited from operating a motor vehicle on a private or public way and will lose her license for 15 years. She must also be alcohol and drug free as she will be subjected to random testing by the Massachusetts Probation Department. Lastly, she must attend and complete the Brains at Risk program which brings awareness to the devastating effects of traumatic brain injuries.
Second Assistant District Attorney Masai King told the court that Harris was driving northbound on Revere Beach Parkway shortly after 5:00 p.m. on December 9, 2018, when her 2015 Chevy Equinox left the roadway and traveled onto the center median where the two victims, their mother, another adult and a two-year-old child were waiting for the walk signal in order to cross the street.
Adrianna, the five year old, was pronounced deceased at the scene. Natasha, her two month old sister, was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital, where she died of her injuries two days later.
State Police detectives assigned to District Attorney Rollins’ office led the investigation with assistance from the Revere Police Department. The defendant made statements admitting to drinking one beer that afternoon and vaping non THC cannabinoid oil while operating the vehicle. Officers who responded to the scene located an open can of Budweiser outside of the driver’s side door of Harris’ SUV, and a vape pen was found inside the vehicle.
The defendant made additional statements that she had taken a muscle relaxant and melatonin the previous night and had only slept for two hours before performing a full day of work prior to the crash. She admitted that she may have “nodded off” while driving. In addition, she failed a series of field sobriety tests administered at the scene of the crash and at the Revere State Police barracks. However, a Drug Recognition Expert evaluated Harris and determined that she did not exhibit any signs of intoxication. In addition, an analysis of blood drawn from Ms. Harris after the incident also yielded a negative result for alcohol.
“Two beautiful children are gone as a result reckless behavior that could have been prevented. Ms. Harris may not have intended to cause harm, but she failed to show any concern for the foreseeable consequences of driving a nearly two-ton vehicle while incapacitated. Her choice was made with complete disregard for the lives and safety of others, and she is being held accountable for the harm she inflicted,” District Attorney Rollins said. “Adrianna and Natasha’s parents had to bury their only children. When I look at the pictures of these beautiful children, I can’t begin to comprehend the depths of their anguish. I only wish we were able to get a more significant sentence for this defendant. Had the case of intoxication been stronger, we would be looking at a different outcome.’’
My Office will continue to be here to support these parents and provide assistance and resources to help them in their long and continued journey toward healing.”
Edith Ayuso is the assigned Victim Witness Advocate. Harris was represented by Attorney Jeffrey Miller.