Vigil honors Placer teens struck, killed by vehicle
The man accused of running down and killing two teenagers near Auburn on Sunday while under the influence of drugs made his first court appearance Tuesday at the Placer County jail in North Auburn.
He appeared before a courtroom packed with about three-dozen weeping and angry family members, friends and supporters.
Philip Morris Ingram, 62, of Auburn, was denied bail after the judge heard emotional pleas from the dead boys’ mothers to keep him locked up.
“The rest of their life is gone, and he’s still here. We’re asking that there be no bail,” Kristina Keller, the mother of Trevor Keller, 15, told Judge Jeffery Penney.
She choked back tears as she tried to get her words out.
Dawn Vierra, the mother of the other boy killed, Jared Gaches, 15, also implored the judge not to give Ingram a chance at freedom pending trial.
“My son forever will be in a box, and he deserves the same thing,” Vierra said through tears, her voice rising in anger.
Bail had been set at $575,000, but the judge said there would be no bail based on the danger to the public that Ingram represented.
A man in the audience yelled “Yes.”
Gaches, of Auburn, and Keller, of Foresthill, were struck Sunday as they and a third friend walked northbound alongside Highway 49 just north of Auburn. A white Ford pickup truck heading south drifted into them on the roadway shoulder, authorities said.
The crash, near Locksley Lane, occurred at 5:15 p.m. Gaches died at the scene and Keller died later at a hospital. Both were students at Placer High School in Auburn, where mourners held a candlelight vigil Monday night.
Prosecutor Robert Lopez said Tuesday in court that Ingram had sideswiped another vehicle shortly before Sunday’s deadly collision and had been convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol once before, in 2000.
“He is a danger to the public,” Lopez argued.
After Penney read the charges – two felony counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while driving under the influence and one misdemeanor count of hit-and-run driving – Ingram’s lawyer entered not guilty pleas.
The judge spoke to Ingram in a loud voice while the defendant sat near the bench.
When Penney asked Ingram if he understood his right to a preliminary hearing within 10 days of his arraignment and asked if he was willing to waive that right, Ingram replied in a confused manner and said he was having trouble understanding Penney.
“I’m not hearing everything,” he told the judge.
Ingram’s lawyer said his client wears hearing aids, and the batteries had run out in jail and hadn’t been replaced.
The judge said he was concerned that Ingram wasn’t grasping the proceedings and his legal rights, and suggested continuing the arraignment until Thursday morning in Roseville, where the courtrooms are equipped with amplifying devices.
The lawyers agreed. The proceedings are scheduled to continue at 8:30 a.m. Thursday at the Placer County justice center in Roseville.