Suspect in crash that killed Detroit mom of 7 had sentencing for earlier crime postponed by pandemic

Family and friends gathered to remember the life of Jiywana Harlan at the very spot where it was taken when the 33-year-old mother of seven killed in a car crash last Saturday. 

"Had (police) done their job correctly and kept him in there, she would still be here," said Shirley Butts, the victim's sister. "That car would've never gotten stolen; they never would have been running from the police, none of this would have ever happened." 

Police say 18-year-old Zaire Vaughn was behind the wheel. He allegedly sped through a red light striking Harlan's SUV, killing her and injuring three of her kids who were inside.

"We've been watching people fly up and down these streets since we were children," said a relative. "There has been many accidents, police chases, hit and runs, all down this particular street."

Zaire Vaughn should have been serving a brief prison stint when the crash happened. The 18-year-old was set to be sentenced back on March 26 after pleading guilty to a pair of felony gun charges and resisting arrest.

He was initially given a 10 percent $1,500 bond, meaning he only had to pay $150 to get out of lock-up. The sentencing was reportedly postponed because of the pandemic. 

"They gave him a slap on the wrist," Butts said. "You gave him a slap on the wrist because of some money. He was able to throw some money in y'all's face and he walked."

Vaughn got into more trouble in the following months according to court records: from carjacking to several felony weapons charges for a case in July. Then there was that fatal crash last week. 

Police say Vaughn and his friend, 17-year-old Dion Davis, were street racing a stolen Dodge Challenger the day of the crash.

The allegedly stolen Dodge Challenger used in the crash.

Officers approached and confronted Davis when he stepped out of the car at a gas station on Seven Mile.  That is when Vaughn, police say, slid into the driver's seat and sped off-eventually hitting Jiwyana's SUV.

Memories are the only thing that can bring fleeting smiles to the family's tear-stained faces.

"At one point do we get to the point where we say enough is enough," said Butts. "Enough doing stupid stuff, acting the fool, because all it does is get us back to what we are doing right now. Loving on each other, crying, and now we have to bury our loved one, for what? It wasn't worth it. And now you are spending the rest of your life in jail. And now your loved ones get to look at you while we have to see my sister at a gravesite laying in the ground."

Victim Jiwyna Harlan.

Vaughn is facing multiple charges including for guns allegedly found inside the car. 

If you would like to donate to the family for the memorial, go to the GoFundMe page here.