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Mom of OC Rampage Shooter to Stand Trial in Hit-and-Run

Sarwat Yasmine Syed appeared before an Orange County Superior Court judge Monday.

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.

Janie D. February 26, 2013 at 08:47 PM
Sometimes, what goes around comes around in the strangest of ways. Hasn't had a chance to grieve the loss of HER son -- a "gentle" boy??? How about the losses her "gentle" boy inflicted on so many others now grieving, or the suffering this little girl's family has been put through while this woman has done nothing but avoid her involvement as the cause of this family's pain? This woman certainly has created her own track record and taught it well to a son who has followed in her own footsteps -- injuring or killing others, and doing all HE did to "avoid" his involvement. If you think I'm heartless, your heart bleeds for all the wrong reasons!
Kathi February 26, 2013 at 09:49 PM
Wonder how they determined that she was the one driving? Haven't read any testimony that the victims or other witnesses had seen whether man or woman driving. This lawyer's statement reported here differs from earlier account that I think said that they tracked her down after she took the car in for repairs & I thought that was when she made the claim to her ins co. Wonder if the ins co bothered to ask her whether she had made a police report or what & when she actually talked to them. Presumably there will be a record of that. & someone had raised the possibility that maybe her son could have been the actual driver. I assume her lawyer would explore that, especially now that he isn't around to suffer any penalty. Of course then she would likely be on the hook for perjury & maybe some other charges. Is her driver's license suspended for now at least?
Taylor Rene February 26, 2013 at 10:06 PM
She thought she was the victim of a hit and run, pulled over once she got off the freeway and called her insurance company to report what she had just experienced. How does anyone know if she was to blame? She is innocent until proven otherwise. How did she "create her own track record" as you say? By being a victim of a car accident? Her son made an extremely poor decision murdering innocent people and then himself, but I don't see how the mother is to blame. This accident happened over a year ago and has nothing to do with her crazy son. Leave her be. Even if her son was a bad person he was her son, and any parent would mourn the loss of their child. Give her space. Her case has nothing to do with her son.
C February 27, 2013 at 02:43 AM
I agree with your stance on this. In fact you're probably being too kind. Let me go a little further. This family is a boil on the ass of our society. This pathetic woman knew damn well she hit that family's car, and she has been trying to cover her ass ever since. She was "confused" about what was happening? Yeah right. Families like these think they can just cruise the streets of CA doing whatever they please, without any regard for the laws that are in place to protect people like the victims. That little girl spent months getting surgeries to repair her face after this selfish road crime. Meanwhile, her son is a useless sack of shit who decides to murder a woman, and then spread his stupidity and ignorance (learned through his family no doubt) through the streets of Orange County killing 3 innocent people. I hope the entire Syed family burns in hell. Sorry if that wasn't subtle.
John February 27, 2013 at 12:21 PM
Holy Cow...I called it, the day the 911 tapes were released after junior went on his killing spree..."the parents are idiots" Dear Lord, Taylor Rene? "How does anyone know if she was to blame?" For Real? How was she caught? Don't you figure a few witnesses to the crash may be available? INCLUDING THE PEOPLE SHE HIT! So if this broad ploughs into a car and believes she is the victim. Poor junior could blame those people for getting in the way of his shot gun blasts...but, oh yea, he lost his head over the whole mess. Pretty simple to see, karma or not, the rest of the sayed's should follow suit...just my opinion. My heart grieves for the innocent victims and maybe slightly for junior, but the parents no way!

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