The internet has exploded with the news that Brendan Khuri has received his sentence in the high-speed crash that killed 32-year-old Monique Munoz. Since the fatal crash, Khuri’s father James Khuri has been busy out in the world trying to sweep it under the rug and protect his son from the consequences of his decisions, leading to a resurgence of the debate about wealthy privilege and law enforcement double standards. Now, with the news that Brendan is receiving a mere slap on the wrist, the internet is abuzz again.
Brendan Khuri Sentenced
Back in February, then-17-year-old Brendan’s reckless decisions ended the life of Munoz, a secretary by trade who was beloved by family and friends. Justice has been slow in coming, even as friends and supporters launched a #JusticeforMonique hashtag and campaign to encourage the district attorney in Los Angeles to press charges and prosecute what they say would have been instant manslaughter charges for anyone but the very wealthy.
Now, a sentence has been handed down and it’s hardly the home run for justice that supporters have been hoping for. A judge has sentenced the teen to 7 to 9 months in a juvenile camp, which feels like nothing compared to taking a life. Khuri first pled guilty back in April, after police dragged their feet for months before charging him.
The Independent reports via MSN, “The teen pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter in April, but his sentencing of seven to nine months drew protests from the victim’s family, who said the defendant was given soft treatment.
‘House arrest in a mansion is not punishment,’ Cynthia Crespin, Ms Munoz’s cousin, said in court, adding: ‘He took an innocent life in a careless and senseless way.’”
Although it seem like an insult to Munoz’s memory to hand down such a light sentence, there may be some extenuating facts that explain the judge’s decision. DailyMail explains, “Khuri’s attorney, Mark Werksman, said the teen was diagnosed with autism, depression and attention deficit disorder following the crash, where they claimed he sustained brain injuries, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Psychologist Karen Schiltz, who testified before the Los Angeles County Superior Court, said Brendan likely suffered from autism his entire life but was never diagnosed and that he would be ‘victimized’ if he were to be held in an LA County juvenile camp.”
Let’s take a look back at the details of the crash and how we got to this point. Brendan was driving at around or over 100mph and the impact with Munoz’s car nearly tore it in half.
CELEB reported this heartbreaking story after it broke in mid-February. “’An investigation has been launched into the death of Munoz last Wednesday. CBS Los Angeles reported, ‘According to LAFD, the crash happened at about 5:14 p.m. in the 10700 block of West Olympic Boulevard, just east of Overland Avenue. It was not immediately clear what led up to the crash.
LAFD said there were only two vehicles involved in the crash, though photos from the scene also showed a third that officials said was merely stopped nearby.
After Munoz was killed, speculation online pointed to James Khuri – an ecommerce business guru – as the father of the teen who was responsible for Munoz’s death.”
James, a millionaire entrepreneur, spent time and money erasing bad press and even possibly paying to have negative Google search keywords removed. Instead of focusing on making amends to the family his son robbed of a daughter, sister, and loved one – Khuri was on reputation repair duty.
The #JusticeForMonique campaign pressured the system and it’s likely their ongoing encouragement forced the eventual booking and charges that were pressed against Brendan
The Reaction Online and Across the Country
At the sentencing, Brendan addressed Munoz’s family, saying, “I realize my suffering does not even come close to what you have gone through. I was a spoiled, reckless 17-year-old who thought I was invincible.” That’s more accountability than his father has shown since the beginning, but there are still multiple questions about the case.
For one, who is more responsible in these cases of teen crime? Is it the minor, whose brain is still not fully capable of processing long-term consequence, or the adults who load them with entitlement and send them out into the world in sports cars? According to the sentencing judge in this case, the parents have created this perfect storm, per The Independent; “Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Sabina Helton said in her ruling that there had been a ‘consistent lack of accountability’ in the teenager’s life and questioned whether his parents were able to provide the discipline he needed.
‘[The driver] needs to be held accountable the same as any other kid who appears in this court,’ she said.”
While Khuri’s diagnoses of autism, ADHD, and his subsequent brain injury complicate any punitive actions, it does beg the question: would a less-wealthy teenager have been given the same consideration? Would the court have looked so hard at “why” he did what he did, if he wasn’t the son of a millionaire?
The internet certainly doesn’t seem to think so. Comment sections and websites are chattering about how Khuri was given so much care and consideration when determining his sentence, which is the maximum juvenile sentence allowed for these charges. Munoz’s supporters believe he should have been tried as an adult.
Once again, it appears that the wealthy are given opportunities and breaks that the rest of the world is denied; there’s no world in which a poor teenager would have been tried as a juvenile on the eve of their 18th birthday for so recklessly taking a life. Yet it happened with Khuri. It feels for supporters like the justice handed down for Munoz isn’t much justice at all.