Friends and family stood beside Senta Florez at the Larson Justice Center in Indio, looking for justice in the hit-and-run death of her daughter Zia Hoyos, and they're hoping it comes in the form of a new law.
This week Florez launched a petition on change.org, calling on local and state leaders to create stiffer penalties for hit-and-run drivers. She asks them increase the sentencing length, the statute of limitations and bail amount for hit-and-run drivers, alcohol-related or not.
Currently, the felony prison term could be anywhere between 24-48 months.
Heather Brents, 30, from Desert Hot Springs, is charged with felony hit-and-run in Hoyos' death.
A police report said Brents admitted to hitting the 16-year-old on Gene Autry Trail in May 2012. She reportedly left Hoyos for dead during a drunken blackout.
Authorities said her father, 69-year-old Russell Stienecker, covered up the crime by hiding the suspect vehicle and is charged as a felony accessory. The two were arrested nearly a year after the crash.
Brents and Stienecker were in court Friday where they waived their right to a preliminary hearing. Prosecutors said she will stand trial and it is still to be determined whether the case will be settled out of court or go to trial.
"It's been a nightmare," said Florez.
"This whole thing is disgusting, what it is, bottom line, is breaking the law and not being accountable for it," said Zia's aunt Marie Espejo.
More than 300 people have signed the petition and hundreds have shown their support on social media. The teen's loved ones hope it will gain momentum and make it to a ballot measure. If it does go through, the family wants to call it "Zia's Law."
"I want her to get to get the max penalty, which is only four years. It's disgraceful. And her father, three years. I cannot believe he would cover up a death," said Florez.
"She didn't stop. She kept going and tried to keep it a secret. For that, give them more time," said Espejo. "We're hoping it gets signed then passed so people in the future who go through this don't have to suffer. It's a horrible feeling."
To sign or view the petition, click here.
To "like" the Facebook page, click here.