Aunt of toddler killed in street pleads not guilty
A San Francisco woman pleaded not guilty this afternoon to charges of felony child endangerment in connection with the death of her 2-year-old niece who was struck and killed in a hit-and-run Friday night.
The family of Mi’Yana Gregory, who was known as My-My, appears divided on whom they believe is responsible for the young girl’s death. According to police, the toddler was struck and killed at about 10:30 p.m. Friday.
Her aunt, 25-year-old Lorysha Gage, was caring for her niece on Friday night when the pair crossed Mission Street between Fourth and Fifth streets against the pedestrian signal, police said.
Gage allegedly walked with Mi’Yana to the middle of the street and left her there while she retrieved the toddler’s twin brother on the sidewalk, according to police. A vehicle traveling east on Mission Street on a green light then struck and killed Mi’Yana, police said.
The vehicle, which still remains at large, is described as a white mid-1990s four-door sedan, possibly a Toyota Camry, Honda or Lexus, with a dark-colored mismatched front bumper and dark or black rims, police said.
Gage was arrested Tuesday and charged with felony child endangerment and appeared in court this afternoon wearing an orange jumpsuit with her frosted-tip hair worn down. She was visibly trembling and let out audible sobs during the court proceedings.
Gage was represented by San Francisco Deputy Public Defender Kevin Mitchell and pleaded not guilty to the felony charges filed against her. Mitchell said Gage’s incarceration “compounds the tragedy” and “interrupts the grieving process.”
Assistant District Attorney Marianne Barrett said Gage’s behavior was reckless and contributed directly to the death of her niece.
Judge Tracy Brown acknowledged that this is “unquestionably a difficult case” and set Gage’s bail at $50,000, citing her lack of a criminal history and her enrollment in Skyline College, which Mitchell said begins for the semester on Monday.
Gage exited the courtroom while glancing back at her family. Mi’Yana’s great-grandmother on her father’s side, Cynthia Johnson, said following Gage’s arraignment that she held Gage responsible and felt that her bail was set too low.
Johnson said that Gage has to learn that actions have consequences and that she “must be punished.” She also said that her great-granddaughter’s death and the events leading up to it were recorded on surveillance video at the scene, which is in the process of being reviewed by authorities.
Irene Williams, Mi’Yana’s great-grandmother on her mother’s side, was also among the family members at Gage’s arraignment. Williams placed blame for her great-granddaughter’s death squarely on the driver who struck Mi’Yana, not on Gage.
Mi’Yana’s funeral will be held on Monday, Johnson said. Friends and family members of Mi’Yana have started an online fundraising effort to pay for the funeral expenses.
In a comment posted by the girl’s family on the fundraising page, they said:
“We thank all of you that support us during these trying times and we are praying for justice for our little angel.”
Gage’s pre-hearing conference in the case is scheduled for Aug. 28 and her preliminary hearing is scheduled for Sept. 3.