LOS ANGELES – Actress-model Rebecca Gayheart has been charged with misdemeanor manslaughter for the death of a 9-year-old boy she struck with her car in June.
The Los Angeles City Attorney's office declined to file a more serious felony charge against the former Beverly Hills 90210 star, saying the accident did not involve alcohol or drugs.
But the lesser charge, issued Sept. 18, indicates that investigators believe some degree of negligent driving caused the child's death.
If convicted, she could face fines, a year in jail and loss of her driver's license.
"It's a sad case," said Harlan Braun, her lawyer. "It's one of those things that could happen to anybody."
Jorge Cruz Jr. was hit on June 13 in Hollywood and died the next day from severe head injuries.
The Los Angeles Police Department said several cars had stopped to allow the youngster to cross a street when Gayheart's Jeep entered a left-turn lane in order to pass slowing cars and struck him.
Gayheart, 29, expressed "sorrow and regret" for the accident. She paid for Cruz's hospitalization and funeral.
Gayheart's film credits include Scream 2, Urban Legend, Jawbreaker and Shadow Hours.