After weeks of public outcry and speculation, charges have been filed against the teen driver who killed 32-year-old Monique Munoz. Once the teen driver of a Lamborghini was revealed to be responsible for Munoz’s death in the wreck, the teen’s father went on a PR campaign, hoping to make his family’s image pristine. Instead of showing compassion to Munoz’s family, the father of the teen driver worried more about image and status than his duty to the family whose lives were changed forever by his son’s actions. With seemingly clear proof that the son of a wealthy businessman had driven recklessly, leading to Munoz’s death, no charges were filed as the weeks dragged on. The failure of the District Attorney overseeing the case to issue charges caused Munoz’s family to cry out for justice. And now, the father of the teen driver has been arrested.
James Khuri Arrested
Justice may have come for the father of Brendan Khuri – but not because of his son’s fatal crash. Khuri was arrested on 8/11/21 for assault – domestic violence/inflicting corporal injury (spouse or cohabitant abuse). This is not surprising to those who know James’ past: he was arrested in 2019, for much the same thing. The booking record for his 2019 arrest reads, assault-domestic violence/inflicting corporal injury (spouse or cohabitant abuse). Sound familiar?
It’s a blast from the past, and a somewhat damning glimpse into the private life of the man who caused such an uproar over his response to his son killing Munoz. After it became apparent that it was James’ son who was involved in the fatal accident, the internet was furious over the whole situation; arguing about affluenza, privilege, and parental responsibility. But there was another voice among the hue and cry; a voice of those who know Khuri and his dark past. On Instagram, commenters said they weren’t surprised to find out that it was Brendan involved in the accident, and that James’ cavalier behavior was in line with what they expected from the man. He was an abuser, these commenters said – just look at his police report. And now, it’s happened again.
Clearly, the problems with the Khuri family run more deeply than a fast car and some bad choices. With Brendan being held accountable for his actions, it’s James’ turn to face the music.
In mid-February, police responded to an accident that reported one on-scene fatality – Munoz. The other driver was reported to be a 17-year-old driving a Lamborghini at reckless speeds, but the name of the driver was protected due to his age.
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.
Despite the evidence at the scene pointing to reckless driving as the cause, no arrest was forthcoming. A #justiceformonique hashtag arose online and family and friends began campaigning for District Attorney George Gascon to file charges against the teen driver. However, as weeks passed by and Gascon continued to apparently sit on his hands, Munoz’s family and friends stepped up their pleas. A Cruise Night protest was arranged and people online began sharing Munoz’s story, hoping the justice system would do its duty and hold the affluent responsible the same way it holds everyone else. Star Trek alum and geek icon Wil Wheaton even shared Munoz’s story, as folks online rallied around the receptionist’s heartbreaking and tragic death. Even as family and friends pleaded for justice, Khuri was seen partying around town and a source informed us that Khuri laughed in the face of people accusing him of being a killer. Khuri appears to have spent money cleaning up his family’s image online and was deleting negative comments on Instagram.
Brendan Khuri Arrested
The identity of Munoz’s killer has now been revealed as charges have been filed. Khuri is confirmed to be the father of Brendan Khuri, the 17 year old responsible for Munoz’s death.
DailyMail reports, “Now DailyMail.com can reveal the Los Angeles Police Department has recommended negligent vehicular manslaughter charges against the Beverly Hills teen over the February 17 crash. Charges have not yet been filed against the 17 year-old because of his age, and the decision will be made by the District Attorney’s office, according to police.
The LA DA’s office confirmed to DailyMail.com Tuesday that the case is under review.
An LAPD detective said they are also investigating social media posts.
‘We’ve done a filing,’ Supervising Detective James Dickson of the LAPD’s West Traffic department told DailyMail.com. ‘That filing was presented to the LA County Juvenile DA. It’s currently in his office.
‘The arrest charge was 192(c)(1), negligent vehicular manslaughter.
‘I can’t regurgitate what we found, but based upon multiple witness statements that corroborate one another, it’s clear that there was gross negligence.’
Dickson said he believed the Lamborghini was racing with an Audi, which was also found at the scene but was not involved in the crash.
‘We believe that that vehicle was potentially engaged in a speed contest with the Lamborghini. That’s a separate investigation and that’s ongoing so I’m not willing to comment at the moment, but we do believe that it was involved,’ he said.”
DailyMail continues, “The detective added that Brendan was absentee booked while in hospital. A lawyer for the Khuri family, criminal defense attorney Mark Werksman, denied Brendan was racing.
Dickson said that ‘from evidence recovered and eyewitness accounts the vehicle was being operated at an unsafe speed.'”
Khuri Family Denies that Brendan was Racing
Khuri denies his son’s responsibility for Munoz’s death as much as he possibly can in the face of blatant evidence. DailyMail reports, “Werksman said in a statement to DailyMail.com: ‘The Khuri family is devastated by the tragic accident on February 17, 2021 that caused the death of Monique Munoz. Their hearts go out to the Munoz family for their incomparable loss.
‘Lawyers for the Khuri family and the Munoz family have worked out a financial settlement in order to allow the families to heal, and they are in the process of finalizing those details. They ask for privacy during this sad and traumatic time.
‘And while I will not discuss the details of the case or the factual allegations with you, I can tell you that there was no racing going on with any other vehicle at the time of the crash. The allegation that there was racing going on at the time of impact if simply false.'”
It should be noted, however, that family members of Munoz deny agreeing to a settlement and call the claim false.
A Long, Heartbreaking Wait
While detectives are not saying anything Munoz’s family didn’t already believe to be true, it must be a relief hearing it finally happening in the halls of power. There’s a larger conversation to be had about car status culture and the way the affluent are treated by the justice system.
For now, one family is one step closer to justice, along with proponents of an equal justice system that doesn’t unfairly protect the affluent.
LAPD was contacted by CELEB to confirm the news of Khuri’s arrest, since the family of Munoz has not been contacted regarding the arrest. CELEB was transferred to the Media Relations department and received this information:
The driver was charged, and the case has been sent to the DA.
CELEB was told, “If the detective told The DailyMail, I would probably go with The DailyMail.”
CELEB was put on hold, and then informed that there will be a press release today regarding the case.
An anonymous source says Khuri has not been arrested and is at home.
We will provide an update once LAPD has released more information.
The LAPD has released a statement about this case.
“Los Angeles: The Los Angeles Police Department’s West Traffic Division is investigating a fatal traffic collision that occurred at Olympic Boulevard and Overland Avenue.
On February 17th, 2021, around 5:10 p.m., a black Lamborghini SUV was traveling eastbound on Olympic Boulevard when it collided with a silver, four-door, Lexus traveling westbound on Olympic Boulevard, negotiating a left turn to proceed southbound on Overland Avenue.
The Los Angeles Fire Department responded to the scene and immediately rendered aid to the driver of the Lexus. Unfortunately, the driver, a 32-year-old female, succumbed to her injuries and died at the scene.
The male, juvenile driver of the Lamborghini was transported to a local hospital where he was admitted for medical attention. On February 23rd, 2021 he was booked for 192(C)(1) PC, Vehicular Manslaughter. The case will proceed through the judicial process.”
UPDATED 4/8/21 at 2:00PM
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office reported that the 17-year-old driver of the Lamborghini has been charged. The investigation was completed on Wednesday however, the office cannot yet release what the charges are. Once the teen is arraigned – called to court, we will find out. His arraignment is scheduled for April 23rd in juvenile court.
Brendan Khuri has pled guilty to felony vehicular manslaughter. The 17-year-old appeared in juvenile court today to enter his guilty plea, months after Munoz was killed. It has been reported that Khuri suffered a brain injury in the same accident that killed Munoz.
For Khuri, if he’s found guilty, he could face between one to six years in prison. Another court appearance June 30th will advance the case against the minor driver.
Khuri has reportedly been frightened since the accident, aware of public scrutiny on this case. But scared or not, the public doesn’t seem inclined to want leniency for Khuri who they see as an example of a system that rewards the rich and badly behaved. Khuri, in taking Munoz’s life, unwittingly set himself up to become the face of a war between the classes; where average Joe is rising up in politics and other arenas to demand that the wealthy and powerful are held to the same standards as everyone else. As Khuri lodged his plea, DailyMail reports that Munoz’s family was in the court room, holding signs with her face and lending all the support they could to their dearly departed loved one. “‘We want him to go to prison and understand the consequences of his undoing. I want his father to feel his son gone for years because Monique is gone for life,’ her uncle said.”
ABC News reports, “Munoz’s family had been hoping the 17-year-old would be charged as an adult.
‘You’re a 17-year-old kid, driving an adult car, acting like an adult, you should be tried as an adult,’ Munoz’s stepfather, Isaac Cardona, told Good Morning America last month.”
Khuri has been on house arrest since being booked, and will appear in court for a disposition setting hearing June 30th. Khuri will be wearing an ankle monitor as he awaits sentencing.
Protests in favor of Justice for Monique have continued as questions hang in the air about what sort of punishment Khuri will ultimately face. The court case will need to be handled carefully because of the community’s implicit bias, and more details about the case will be forthcoming.