The son of a wealthy Los Angeles entrepreneur admitted Friday to vehicular manslaughter in connection with a high-speed crash that left a woman dead earlier this year, and could receive probation under the terms of the arrangement.
The 17-year-old son of James Khuri — a multimillionaire who owns several real estate firms and an e-commerce business — admitted he was behind the wheel of a Lamborghini sport utility vehicle that slammed into a vehicle driven by 32-year-old Monique Munoz near Olympic Boulevard and Overland Avenue on Feb. 17.
The Times normally does not identify juveniles accused of crimes and has not published the teen's name in this case. Khuri has spoken out in public about his son's involvement.
The teen admitted to one count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence in Inglewood Juvenile Court and will be confined to his home until his next court date in June.
Sentencing will likely take place in August, according to defense attorney Mark Werksman, with the teen facing a range of outcomes from probation to up to nine months in juvenile camp. Even if tried as an adult, the maximum penalty for vehicular manslaughter under California law is six years in custody, but the teen’s lack of a criminal record and age would make that outcome unlikely.
In court, prosecutors said the teen had been "racing" with a female friend and swerving in and out of traffic before the fatal wreck. The Lamborghini was traveling at 106 miles per hour when it struck Munoz, prosecutors said. Police said the force of the crash nearly split Munoz's vehicle in half. The teen was also hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.
Werksman, however, vehemently denied the characterization that his client was "racing." An LAPD captain said about three weeks after the crash that police did not believe the teen had been in a street race.
Several dozen of Munoz’s friends and family staged a demonstration outside the court holding signs that suggested the teen should be tried as an adult or that his father should be held criminally responsible as well. Chants of “Justice for Monique!” echoed throughout the courtroom during the hearing.
Munoz's loved ones have repeatedly accused police and prosecutors of treating the teen differently due to his father's wealth and influence, though police have said the teen was booked on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter within days of the crash.
Prosecutors also confirmed the teen has been cited twice before for speeding in Beverly Hills, including in October 2020 when police stopped him driving 72 miles per hour on city streets. After the second violation three weeks later, the teen’s Lamborghini was impounded and his provisional driver’s license — which requires an adult to be in the car with him at all times — was suspended, prosecutors said.
Werksman said his client was extremely remorseful and had apologized to the Munoz family. Both the teen and his mother openly wept in court, with his attorney saying he doubted the 17-year-old would "ever drive again."
The teenager “takes full responsibility for his actions and he’s devastated by this tragedy," Werksman said after the hearing. "He is extremely remorseful and has admitted the juvenile petition in order to demonstrate his remorse and his willingness to accept the consequences of his actions.”
Outside the courthouse, Munoz’s uncle, Richard Cartier, described the driver's admission as a “small victory” but said ultimately he won’t feel justice is served unless the teen faces prison time.
“I want his father to feel his son gone for years, because Monique is gone for life,” Cartier said.
In juvenile court, offenders do not face incarceration in the state prison system. While some of Munoz’s relatives have called for the case to be tried in adult court, Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón has barred prosecutors from trying teens as adults. It was not uncommon, however, for similar cases to be tried in juvenile court under Gascón's predecessors.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.