Mathis pleads not guilty -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Bailey family looks on as Mathis pleads not guilty

Taylor Bailey's mother and sister Taylor Bailey's mother and sister

Steven Mathis, The Lee County teenager who was driving a car when 14-year-old Taylor Bailey fell off the trunk and later died, plead not guilty this morning in Leesburg.

The 19-year-old Mathis was indicted on charges of vehicular homicide and reckless driving. Mathis was driving a car on Nacoochee Street and Groover Street in Leesburg in April when  Bailey fell off and suffered the fatal head injury.

Mathis and his family were sitting right behind the family of Taylor Bailey when Mathis entered his plea.   Christmas will never be the same for the Bailey family.

"That boy loved Christmas," said the boy's mother, Dana Bailey.  This will be the family's first Christmas without Taylor Bailey, who would have turned 15 a few weeks ago. The Lee County middle school student was riding on the back of a car last April and fell off. He was on life support for 17 days before he died from severe head injuries.

"There is not a day that goes by that we don't think about him," said his sister, Crystal Reese.

The driver of that car, Steven Mathis was indicted in October on charges of vehicular homicide and reckless driving. Tuesday, he appeared in a crowded Lee County courtroom for an arraignment hearing. He was one of dozens on the roster, when his name was called he entered a plea of not guilty.

"I had a feeling as far as the plea goes, because he doesn't think it was his fault," said Reese.

Bailey's family was in the courtroom, and sat just one row in front of Mathis and his family when he entered his plea.

"He's shown no remorse at this point, all he is concerned about is his welfare," Reese said.

Today the family walked into court wearing T-shirts they had made in Taylor's memory.

"Unless you experience something like this it is hard to explain what our journey has been like," Crystal Reese said.

 But their journey is not over yet. "Any hearing that they have, we will be back, we're not done just because he entered a not guilty plea today. We're not done by no means," Dana said.

In the meantime, his mother and sister have a message for others. "Love and care for your children every day because you never know what's going to happen, you never know what the next day holds. You can never tell them you love them enough," said Bailey.

While the family is hopeful justice will be served, they admit nothing will ever bring Taylor back.

Mathis' defense attorney says he just got the documents for the case last week, and he will have a better understanding of the case once he has a chance to thoroughly look through those files.

In Georgia, a vehicular homicide conviction can carry a prison sentence of 3 to 15 years.


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