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Longmont teen wrongly accused in fatal hit-and-run speaks out

10:25 PM, Feb 21, 2013   |    comments
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LONGMONT- Kendra Balentine, 19, says it's hard for her to smile, but she tries often because it keeps her from crying. 

Balentine spoke exclusively with 9NEWS for the first time since charges against her were dropped in the fatal New Year's Eve hit-and-run crash that killed 16-year-old Jason Grimmer.

Balentine and her pastor have always maintained that she was in church at the time of the accident, but Longmont police say damage to the front part of her car was one piece of evidence that connected her to the crime.

"I tried to start of the new year good, to be a good role model to my sister instead of going out drinking or anything else," Balentine said. "The damage to the front part of my car police are talking about was when I hit a parked car. I left a note and it turned out to be my mom's next door neighbor. I paid him $250 for it, even though he didn't care because the car didn't work."

A month later, after test results came back, police determined that Balentine was not involved in the accident on New Year's Eve night. As a result of the charges, Balentine spent seven days in jail and paid thousands of dollars to bond out.

"I don't know how I got through," she said. "I didn't sleep. I didn't eat. [I] couldn't focus on anything. I would think of my family and a little memory that we had, and I would laugh about it. I laugh to keep from crying."

Balentine says the last month has been very difficult for her. Whenever she tries to apply for jobs, she says she gets turned away because of the charges she was facing.

Balentine says people see her and they try to take pictures of her or say hurtful things to her because they tie her to the crime.

"I don't understand. There are people who actually do stuff and don't get caught, and I'm innocent, and I get in trouble," Balentine said.

Balentine believes God is the reason her name was cleared and says she will continue to stay in church to pray for strength.

"[I'm] working on getting my life put back together, just trying to leave this behind," Balentine said.

Longmont police say they are continuing to work the case to determine who hit and killed Jason Grimmer. So far, police have gone back through surveillance video to get a description of the suspect's car, but so far, they haven't been able to identify a vehicle.

Police have received several tips, but they haven't lead to anything so far. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Stacey Graham at (303) 774-4392 or Master Police Officer Mike Stogsdill at (303) 774-4300, ext. 3355.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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