Families of women killed in Winter Park New Year’s Eve crash demand justice

Prosecutors say more than 6,000 felony cases still open dating back to 2018

Families of women killed in Winter Park New Year’s Eve crash demand justice
Families of women killed in Winter Park New Year’s Eve crash demand justice

ORLANDO, Fla. – Nearly four years after a deadly crash in Winter Park took the lives of two young women, their families are still demanding justice.

On Dec. 31, 2017, Winter Park police said Justin Fonner was driving 128 miles-per-hour when his BMW crashed into a car at the intersection of Orange and Westchester Ave.

Geena Pabarue and Keisha Parales, both 23, were killed.

Fonner was hospitalized, and he was charged with two counts of vehicular homicide.

Now, nearly four years later, his case has yet to go to trial in Orange County.

“Our life stopped four years ago -- almost four years ago -- and everyone else’s life kept going,” said Pabarue’s sister Everyis Lopez.

According to the Orange County Clerk of Courts website, a trial date for Fonner has been set and delayed at least five times.

Reasons given to the judge for a delay include: the investigation not being complete, a malfunctioning hard drive, the state and defense engaging in plea discussions and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The latest delay was granted days before Fonner’s latest trial date of May 10.

“They are stalling -- that’s what they’re doing. They are doing nothing but stalling,” said Lopez. “It’s just making us re-live losing Geena every single day, harder than the day before.”

News 6 investigated and found out these families are not alone.

According to a spokesperson for the Orange County Clerk of Courts, there are 6,046 felony cases still open that date back to the day of the deadly crash.

Fonner’s attorney, Jonathan Rose, had no comment about the trial delays.

Keisha Mulfort, a spokeswoman for State Attorney Monique Worrell, said she understands the families’ frustration.

“It is the intent of the Office of the State Attorney to ensure that we are thorough in our pursuit of justice,” she said. “While we understand the immediacy of resolution for not only the families of the victims, but the accused, we have to ensure that we are diligent in how that is achieved within the scope of our duties and the law. Our ASAs are actively working to resolve this case.”

“We understand the frustrations surrounding the length of time it has taken to prosecute this case,” she continued. “It is however, important to note that there are systems in place that protects the integrity of prosecutions and we are required to work within the confines of those constructs. We are hoping to resolve cases that have been impacted as a result of the global pandemic as efficiently as we possibly can.”

Pabarue’s mother said she will continue to visit her daughter every day at the cemetery in Kissimmee, while both families wait for justice.

Fonner has a status hearing set for Aug. 9.

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