Mom of boy killed in West Pike Township crash speaks out against charges for teen responsible

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Pa. — The mother of a 13-year-old boy who died in a car crash last April spoke out against the plea deal for the 19-year-old responsible, saying it’s not what her son would have wanted.

Wednesday was a day Heather Laidella has been waiting for for 19 months, and not for the reason you might assume.

Laidella didn’t want to face the young man who killed her son and tell him about her loss. She wanted to face the judge and prosecutor and beg for leniency, saying she’s already forgiven him.

“I do not under any circumstances agree with the charges filed against Ruben,” Laidella said. “Jayden loved Ruben like he was a brother. He wanted more for Ruben.”

Laidella lost her son Jayden in April 2022 .

The driver, Ruben Miller, 19, was speeding when he lost control going around a bend in West Pike Township. Jayden was not wearing a seatbelt and was killed. Another teen was seriously injured in the crash.

Wednesday, Ruben Miller was sentenced in a Washington County courtroom.

Miller accepted a plea deal. The DA’s office lowered the charge from felony homicide by vehicle to misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter, giving him five years probation and no jail time.

In court, Laidella spoke out against the deal, saying her son wouldn’t want it.

Laidella told Channel 11′s Cara Sapida it’s not the punishment she’s against, it’s the charge.

“I wanted a misdemeanor two, recklessly endangering another person,” she explained. “With that misdemeanor two, he would have been able to do what my son wanted him to do. Go to school, go to college, play ball, now that is not on the table.”

Miller’s defense attorney told the judge he is in welding school, which he will be able to continue thanks to the plea deal.

The Beth Center teenager has been remembered as a talented athlete, student, friend and son. And while Wednesday’s outcome wasn’t what his family wanted, it is some closure.

“In order to heal you have to forgive. Forgiveness isn’t for the other person. In my case, some of it is because I love that child, but it’s for you,” Laidella said.

The assistant district attorney said in court they lowered this charge greatly to include no jail time. The District Attorney’s Office feels it is fair and upholds the law.

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