Aunt of 16-year-old accused of driving stolen SUV in fatal Uber crash: ‘He is innocent’

MILWAUKEE -- The aunt of a 16-year-old boy charged as an adult in connection with a crash that killed an Uber passenger on Friday, March 22 said he's not responsible for the death of Marlyn Hernandez, 22.

Jesus Cardenas-Torres, facing the possibility of nine years in prison, was being held at the Vel Phillips Juvenile Justice Center as the case was being waived into adult court. His aunt said the accusations against him are false.

"He is innocent. He has no reason to be locked up," said Cardenas-Torres' aunt. "He has a baby and he has no reason to be without his father. The baby really needs his father."

The 16-year-old was arrested Friday morning at the crash scene near 21st and Orchard, where a white SUV that police said was stolen T-boned a black Pontiac -- an Uber carrying Marlyn Hernandez and a friend. The Uber driver and the friend of Hernandez were hurt. Hernandez died at the hospital.

"We feel so much, um, pain on her side too. That was bad what happened. We are all sad because that reason," said Cardenas-Torres' aunt.

While acknowledging the loss, Cardenas-Torres' aunt maintained her nephew is not to blame.

"He was really not driving. He was in the back seat," said Cardenas-Torres' aunt.

Court documents indicated Cardenas-Torres "admitted driving the white SUV during the accident."

Family members said that's not the case.

"I know who it was. My brother told me everything. My brother was in the back seat and when it crashed, he hit his head against the side of the window and went unconscious and messed up his neck and inside his stomach," said Cardenas-Torres' brother.

"They should be out there looking for the real one, the real killer, the one that was driving the vehicle," said Cardenas-Torres' aunt.

Jesus Cardenas-Torres' aunt and brother

In addition to Cardenas-Torres, a 13-year-old was arrested at the scene, charged with being a passenger in a stolen vehicle.

As they make their way through the court system, Cardenas-Torres' aunt said she feels this was all an unfortunate tragedy.

"We want everything to be in peace and be in peace with her family," she said/

Prosecutors said Cardenas-Torres was speeding in the stolen SUV and blew through a stop sign near 21st and Orchard, T-boning the Uber vehicle. According to prosecutors, Cardenas-Torres indicated "he did not have a driver license and knew he was not allowed to drive." Cardenas-Torres also "made reference to a recent incident where police pulled him over as he was driving a car and gave him tickets." Records show these tickets were issued on Jan. 7 -- and included a citation for operating after suspension.

Fatal crash near 21st and Orchard in Milwaukee

Fatal crash near 21st and Orchard in Milwaukee

Cardenas-Torres was charged with knowingly operating a motor vehicle without a valid license, causing death and knowingly operating a motor vehicle without a valid license, causing great bodily harm. As of Monday, March 25, an initial court appearance hadn't been set.

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