Sarwat Yasmine Syed, the mother of OC rampage shooter Ali Syed, shielded her face from news cameras as she appeared in court Monday afternoon, facing charges she fled the scene after seriously injuring a little girl in a 2011 car crash.
Sarwat Syed, 43, has pleaded not guilty to felony hit-and-run and inflicting serious injury upon Ava O’Connor, who was 4 at the time of the collision. Annette Argo and her son Gaven were also inside the vehicle with O'Connor when it drove off the north 405 Freeway. They too were injured, but not as severely as Ava, they said in an interview Monday.
According to prosecutors, on June 20, 2011, Sarwat Syed failed to stop her vehicle after the crash to provide vehicle documentation and to help the injured parties as required by law. She was soon arrested and didn't post $50,000 bail until August 2011.
Judge Gregg L. Prickett set Sarwat Syed's upcoming hearing dates: A pretrial is scheduled for April 15, with the jury trial set to begin May 13.
“She didn’t stop appropriately or render any aid,” said Deputy District Attorney Patrick Moss, who's prosecuting the case.
D.A. spokeswoman Farrah Emami added that Syed “went through great lengths to hide her involvement.”
Defense attorney Vincent LaBarbera Jr. told reporters after the Monday hearing that his client was confused about what had happened and attempted to comply with the law by pulling over down the road and notifying her insurance company. LaBarbera said Sarwat was “completely innocent.”
“She didn’t know what was going on, but thought she had been the victim of a hit-and-run herself,” LaBarbera said. “But that will all be revealed in trial.”
Ava's father, Robert O’Connor, who was in the courtroom with his family, said his daughter has healed considerably, but there’s still a way to go.
“We just want justice to be done,” he said.
About Ali Syed’s murder-suicide rampage through OC earler this month, LaBarbara said the family’s "grief is immense."
“The family is searching for answers themselves,” said LaBarbera. “This is a sad situation for everyone.”
LaBarbera said Sarwat Syed hadn't had a chance to grieve for the death of her son, a college student who shot three people to death and wounded three others on Feb. 19 before turning the gun on himself.
“Their son was a gentle boy,” LaBarbera said. “He never appeared to be someone who had any violent tendencies. He was a loving son.”
LaBarbera said the family was cooperating fully with police, both in the hit-and-run case and the investigation of Ali Syed's shootings.