The 21-year-old man accused of texting and driving when he hit and killed a 20-year-old Worcester woman in June pleaded not guilty in court Friday.
Prosecutors say Tyler Hamilton admitted to officers that he had been texting when he struck Gabriella Lowell who was in a crosswalk on Grafton Street, a half-mile from her home.
Boston 25 News witnessed Hamilton sobbing on the sidewalk as police investigated, later leaving with officers for questioning.
Hamilton was charged with motor vehicle homicide by negligent operation, speeding, texting and driving and failing to stop in a crosswalk. He was released after posting $1,000 bail under the judge's order that he not drive. Hamilton currently has a suspended license.
Gabriella Lowell's mother, Alyson Lowell, was emotional in the courtroom, watching Hamilton face the judge.
"Him even being handcuffed and booked was the start of justice," Lowell said. "He's going to be held accountable."
Hamilton's defense attorney said his client, a rising junior at Fitchburg State University, has no prior record.
"My client did admit at the scene that he did receive a text. Not that he was texting while driving - that he received a text, looked down and the accident occurred," attorney Gregory Benoit said. "He was remorseful at the scene. He hasn't strayed or gone any which way. He’s been cooperative with police."
Hamilton will appear again in Worcester District Court for a pretrial hearing on Sept. 11.
Meanwhile, Gabby's mother is advocating for safe driving, working to get the hands-free cell phone bill passed on Beacon Hill and pushing to have a flashing light installed at the crosswalk where her daughter was killed.
She hopes her pain teaches other drivers a valuable lesson, while she savors the happy memories of goofy, fun-loving Gabby, who was always singing, laughing and filling her family's home with joy.
"She was the love of my life. This was my only child. And I am just devastated, because this was avoidable," Lowell said. "I hope that he knows that those texts took away my child, and I’m never going to get her back."
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