‘I am my son’s voice’ Mother asks for mercy for teen driver charged in crash that killed her son

WEST PIKE RUN TOWNSHIP, Pa. — 19-year-old Ruben Miller is charged with homicide by vehicle in the death of one of his friends, 13-year-old Jayden Anderson.

Anderson was thrown from the car and killed in a crash in April of 2022. Police say Miller was speeding to catch up with another friend’s car when he lost control of his car going around a bend.

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Miller and another teen were seriously injured. Jayden, who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, was killed.

At today’s preliminary hearing, Jayden’s mom showed up to show support for the young man charged in the case.

“I’ve forgiven Ruben. I’ve said before that forgiveness it isn’t for the other person, it’s for you. You can’t hold onto that anger and hostility. I couldn’t love him any more unless I gave birth to him myself. He made a bad decision, he knows that. He didn’t set out to hurt Jayden,” said Heather Laidella, Jayden’s mother.

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Heather shared a photo of her son with Miller, taken just weeks before the fatal car crash.

“I am my son’s voice and I know what my son wants: nothing to happen to Ruben that is going to hurt him for the rest of his life. The fact that he has to live with it for the rest of his life is bad enough.”

Defense attorney Chris Blackwell said Heather is full of grace and his client and her son were like brothers.

“It’s obviously an emotionally heavy case. It’s taken a toll on everyone on both sides, particularly his mother. She’s had conversations with myself, the district attorney, the police officers, just about everybody involved,” Blackwell said.

Washington County District Attorney, Jason Walsh, tells Channel 11, “We always take the opinions and wishes of the victim’s family into consideration. However, this is still the beginning stages of the case and we do have an unfortunate teenage death, whether it was intentional or not.”

Heather had a message for other teenagers.

“A lot of these teens are getting ready to drive and get their license. Wear your seatbelt. And be kinder toward each other. Teenagers and the world in general need to have a whole lot more kindness. It wouldn’t be so messed up if we all just had a little more grace and kindness and love and compassion.”

The next step in this case is the formal arraignment, set for next month.

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