Woman not indicted in connection with Hamilton crash that killed 6-year-old boy

A Butler County grand jury has declined to indict a woman who was charged in connection with a fatal crash in May that left a boy dead and his brother injured.

Hortencia Garcia, 26, of Cincinnati was charged with tampering with evidence, a felony, for allegedly retrieving a “wad” of cash from a car after the crash and hiding it in her bra. She stopped because she knew the driver..

On Wednesday a grand jury declined to indict Garcia on the charge, and the case was dismissed.

Nolen Scott Jones, 6, of Hamilton, died of head injuries sustained when he was struck by the car while crossing Pleasant Avenue about 6:45 p.m. May 11. His 11-year-old brother, Logan Watson, was also injured.

The driver of the car, Elizabeth Ann Marie Mehl, 30, of Corwin Avenue in Hamilton, was originally charged with OVI and child endangering, both misdemeanors, and felony drug abuse. There were two children, ages 10 and 3, in the car at the time of the crash, according to the Hamilton police.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said Garcia should never have been charged.

During a preliminary hearing in May in Hamilton Municipal Court, officers said Garcia first retrieved Mehl’s purse from the car so that police could identify her. She later took a small purse containing more than $1,000 out of the car and concealed it in her bra, the officer said.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said the facts in the Garcia case did not support the charge because she had permission to retrieve items from the car.

“There was a failure of communication between the investigating officers on the case resulting in somebody being charged that should not have been,” Gmoser said.

Garcia was in the Butler County Jail for several days but was released on $30,000 bond on May 19.

At the request of the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office, the misdemeanor charges against Mehl were dismissed in Hamilton Municipal Court to avoid possible double jeopardy issues because the continuing crash investigation could result in more serious charges at the common pleas court level.

Mehl, who is free on $70,000 bond, was also in municipal court in May for a preliminary hearing, where Judge Dan Gattermeyer found sufficient evidence to bind the drug abuse charge over to grand jury. Her case is still awaiting presentation to a grand jury.

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