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Trial pushed for teen driver accused of homicide

The trial date for the teen driver accused of vehicular homicide in the deaths of two girls in Spokane Valley has been pushed to October, one year since the fatal crash.

Preston Maher, 16, appeared in a Spokane County Superior courtroom Wednesday with his attorney, Phillip Wetzel, to request a continuance of his trial in the deaths of McKenzie Mott and Josie Freier. both 15. The girls, both students at University High School, were killed in a crash that occurred Oct. 5 at what was known as the “Ponderosa Jump,” according to court documents, a stretch of road since flattened to prevent future incidents.

Wetzel requested more time to review city engineering records in preparation for trial, which was originally scheduled to begin next month, and interview a witness who has not yet spoken with attorneys. Prosecutor William Reeves, speaking on behalf of a half dozen family members who sat in the gallery Wednesday, said they would prefer the proceedings to begin as soon as possible.

“Their lives have been on hold for a considerable period of time - several months - in this case,” Reeves said.

Family members wore T-shirts with images of Mott and Freier on the backs, and the date of their death.

Judge Annette Plese granted the motion to continue Wednesday, ruling the need for the defense to be prepared for trial and avoid further appeals outweighed concerns about a drawn-out trial.

“I’m not going to grant any further continuances,” Plese said.

A judge has not yet been selected to preside over the trial, which is now slated to begin in early October.