MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - The Maricopa County Attorney's Office (MCAO) is closing the case and dropping charges on a deadly crash that police say involved a drunk driver.
In October 2018, Collin Reeves was leaving a work party and driving his truck east on McKellips Road. According to court documents, as he approached the intersection at Alma School, another vehicle made a left turn in the intersection and the two collided. Witnesses said the light was red.
Audri Dillard and Jesel Torres were in the other vehicle and died at the scene along with their dog, Layla.
"Mr. Reeves has destroyed lives. He has damaged family's fabric," said Pastor Andre Miller, who is acting as the spokesperson for Audri and Jesel's families.
Salt River police say Reeves had a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.145, and he was arrested that night. MCAO had one year to file charges on the DUI, but they missed their deadline.
"The misdemeanor DUI did not get charged. There's a one-year statute of limitations on DUIs, and he was not charged with that either, that was due to a gross oversight of our office," said Jennifer Liewer, a spokesperson for MCAO. "We are already looking at our internal process to find out how we can address that so that it never happens again, but it did happen in this case."
Liewer said prosecutors were focusing on the felony manslaughter charge, which has now been dropped as well because investigators could not prove that Reeves caused the crash.
"When they entered the intersection, they would have had the same light sequence. So if he had a red light, she would have had a red light. If his light was yellow, she would have had a yellow, but Arizona statute says that those turning left must yield to oncoming traffic," Liewer explained.
Liewer said the County Attorney's Office has to look at which cases have a reasonable likelihood of conviction and trial.
"This is a tragic case. It's every parent's worst nightmare. Two young people lost their lives. Their dog was in the car, dog was killed. It was a horrific crash that happened that night," Liewer said. "But as prosecutors, we need to be able to define who was at fault in that in order to charge somebody and take them to trial. Unfortunately, the evidence does not support that."
The families involved, however, are challenging this finding.
"From a family standpoint and a community standpoint, we are totally outraged. This is something that is totally unacceptable. This is something that should not happen, and right now, they're setting a precedent for that to happen again," Miller said.
Both families want Reeves to face some sort of punishment for his involvement with the crash.
"We know this for a fact: he was intoxicated. We know for a fact: he ran a red light. We know for a fact: he took two lives and a pet. We know all of these things for a fact, and for with those facts alone it would show me and any person with common sense that this man committed a crime," Miller said.
A supervisor reviewed the case at the families' request. However they came to the same conclusion.
"This is really hard, complicated work," Liewer said. "We just want the community to know that we do care. We care about each and every one of our cases. This case is tragic, but we also are limited on what we can do based on what the law is and what our ethical standards require us to do."
Miller said he hopes Reeves learned his lesson, but their fight isn't over.
"At the end of the day when you look at it, all bail money will be returned, he won't have a record, he won't have any convictions, he won't have a DUI, and he took two lives. I don't know how he sleeps at night," Miller said. "Their lives are too important for us to say this is OK. Their lives are too important for us to say this is over. Their lives are too important for us to say we're not going to continue to fight for justice. We have to fight for justice. We have to seek justice. If not, things like this will continue to happen."