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Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

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Lisa Ellen Spoors accepts plea bargain and will face up to five years in prison

Customized+sneakers+with+photos+of+Rashad+Al-Hakim+Jr.%2C+the+15-year-old+Hoover+High+School+student+who+was+killed+in+the+hit-and-run+accident+involving+former+graduate+teaching+assistant%2C+Lisa+Ellen+Spoors%2C+in+2022.+The+sneakers+were+seen+at+a+protest+for+Al-Hakim+Jr.+on+Feb.+8+at+the+Fresno+County+Superior+Court.
Valentina Saldana/The Collegian
Customized sneakers with photos of Rashad Al-Hakim Jr., the 15-year-old Hoover High School student who was killed in the hit-and-run accident involving former graduate teaching assistant, Lisa Ellen Spoors, in 2022. The sneakers were seen at a protest for Al-Hakim Jr. on Feb. 8 at the Fresno County Superior Court.

Lisa Ellen Spoors, the former graduate teaching assistant at Fresno State involved in the hit-and-run accident that resulted in the death of Rashad Al-Hakim Jr. in October 2022, stood in a Fresno County courtroom and accepted a plea bargain this morning.

Spoors, who uses they/them pronouns, pled nolo contendere (no contest) to charges of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated without gross negligence and hit-and-run resulting in permanent injury or death.

The charge for driving under the influence of drug while causing injury was dismissed before the trial.

Spoors was originally charged with murder, driving under the influence of drug while causing injury and hit-and-run resulting in permanent injury or death in January 2023. The murder charge was dismissed in light of the evidence and Spoors’ acceptance of the plea.

The Collegian contacted Al-Hakim Jr’s mother, Ragina Bell, who expressed her heartsick emotions.

“Justice was not served,” she said.

Spoors is accused of being under the influence, causing impaired vision.

A previous blood test revealed the presence of several prescription drugs, including methamphetamine, in their bloodstream.

According to an article by the Fresno Bee, Marc Kapetan, Spoors’ attorney, maintains that his client was not under the influence and could not have stopped the car in time to avoid the collision.

Judge Gabriel Brickey told Spoors the maximum sentence they will receive is five years, the Fresno Bee reported.

“She could’ve got more time, five years is not enough,” Bell said.

The Collegian also reached out to the district attorney, Steven Ueltzen, and he said he was unable to comment on an open case.

If the case had gone to trial on the original charges, which included murder, Spoors would be facing 15-years-to-life in prison.

Al-Hakim Jr’s family has strongly advocated that Spoors should face murder charges by demonstrating with protests.

“We want her [Spoors] to face murder charges,” Bell said to The Collegian. “They want to lower it to vehicular manslaughter, which doesn’t really hold too much time.”

When news of the incident first broke, the Hoover High School student’s death also stirred up commotion on Fresno State’s campus.

The Collegian reported in November of 2022 that an announced protest led to the closure of the Conley Art Building. The protest was canceled for an unknown reason.

Racial tensions and speculations were brought to light on social media about the case, stirring up controversies on campus and in the community.

“Ideally I just want justice to be served because this isn’t the first time she’s done something like this so she needs to be held accountable,” Bell said. “If Rashad wasn’t a Black kid, and she wasn’t a white woman and it was switched, I feel like the outcome would be so much different.”

Two other protests were held, one in January 2023, where community members gathered to protest the release of Spoors on bail and one on Feb. 8 where Al-Hakim Jr’s family joined to advocate for Spoors to face murder charges.

Bell said their fight is not over yet, and her family will continue to advocate for justice.

Spoors’ sentencing hearing is scheduled to take place on April 10.

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