Before and after verdict, strength and resolve from families

We are writing to update you on the recent trial, conviction and sentencing of Ryan Taylor, who was found guilty on all charges stemming from his involvement in the deaths of Henderson Collegiate students Elijah Brown and Kasi Thompson in a May 2018 traffic accident.

Taylor was tried and convicted of two counts of second-degree murder and two counts of felony death by vehicle, along with felony hit and run, driving while impaired, reckless driving to endanger, and failure to reduce speed while also refusing to comply with a license restriction. This past Friday, Superior Court Judge Cindy Sturges handed Taylor a minimum 32-year prison sentence for the deaths of Kasi and Elijah.

While in attendance at the sentencing on Friday, I (Mr. Sanchez) was humbled by the outpouring of love and support for Kasi’s and Elijah’s families from members of our community who came out to support them and to honor Kasi’s and Elijah’s memories. This same support has been a constant throughout our community over the past few years, and truly exemplifies our belief of the Pride supporting the lion, and each lion supporting the Pride.

We also appreciated our local law enforcement and district attorney’s office for their diligence and care with this case. At a time in our history marked by inconsistency, knowing the prevalence of racial bias in law enforcement and the judicial systems around the country, the work done by our local law enforcement officers and the members of the DA’s office on this case should serve as reassurance and hope that a fair and just trial was achieved.

While we are nowhere near having an objective system that is fair to everyone, this outcome serves as a proofpoint that equity is possible within the bounds of the law, and especially right here in our own community.

Lastly, and most importantly, we admire the strength and resolve of Kasi’s and Elijah’s families the last three years and four months. They continue to give back and lift our community in spite of their own unfathomable tragedy and loss. Their compassion and love has remained unwavering, and even extended beyond the confines of their grief as they extended prayers and, in some cases, forgiveness, to Mr. Taylor, even as they held him accountable for his actions. Their love, strength and compassion represent the model to which we should all strive during challenging times.

The impact of losing Kasi and Elijah so early in their young lives continues to affect our community. Kasi and Elijah were promising students with bright futures. Carice and I truly loved both Kasi and Elijah as the extraordinary people they were. We will always hold a special place in our hearts for them and their families, and will forever consider them part of our own family. We are comforted by how they made a difference in our lives, and both Kasi and Elijah will forever be remembered through the treasured memories of all who knew and loved them, and through visits to the Memorial Garden on our high school campus.

Thank you for your support as we work together to process and cope with the loss of Kasi and Elijah, and the conclusion of the trial and sentencing. Let’s continue to hold their families in our thoughts and prayers.

Eric and Carice Sanchez

Co-founders, Henderson Collegiate