Family, friends of hit-and-run victim show force in court
Dec. 18, 2008

HOUSTON-Family and friends of Nicole "Lilly" Lalime gathered together in an emotional display of support outside a Houston courtroom Thursday morning.

Lalime, a 13-year-old Bleyl Middle School student, was while getting off the school bus in front of her home.

That driver, 30-year-old John Winne, was charged with intoxication manslaughter.

Just two days after her death, Lalime's family and friends stood outside the courtroom as the judge read the charges against a silent Winne.

The crowd listened closely as prosecutors detailed the crash that took Lalime's life.

They said Winne was drunk when he struck the school bus and Lalime, and that he never stopped to offer assistance.

Reports from the court indicate that prosecutors are considering upgrading Winne's charge to murder and that could put him behind bars for life.

Lalime's mother on Wednesday told 11 News Winne hit Lilly so hard, her head was displaced from her spine.

Police later found Winne hiding behind a nearby home.

Lalime's mother and friends called Winne's alleged actions " unjustifiable."

"We are here so that her death is not without reason," Lilly's mother, Valoree Lalime, said. "We want everyone to know how important it is that we don't let people who drive drunk off."

"Nicole was such a great person. She was so artistic. She loved to draw and she loved life, and it wasn't fair that I mean, she was 13. She was barely alive," friend Reagan Brown said.

Winne is currently being held without bond. The charges against him could land him in prison for two to 20 years, but prosecutors said they could potentially raise the charges to felony murder. That could send him away for life.

Wednesday night, Lalime's family and friends gathered for a .

Friends said prayers, and her parents spoke through tears about their daughter.

They said Lalime had survived a life-threatening surgery a year and half ago for scoliosis, which left her temporarily in a body cast.

"She was so afraid she was going to die that she actually wrote a will and she told us what her wishes were," her mother said. " After she survived the operation, everything changed for her.There was no reason for her to be afraid."

The Lalimes said after her surgery, Lilly asked to be an organ donor.

They said they fulfilled those wishes Tuesday night.

A fund was created at the Cy-Fair Federal Credit Union to help the Lalime family with funeral expenses.

Valoree Lalime's employer is also sponsoring a $5 BBQ fundraiser for the family on Friday at 11 a.m. at the Wells Fargo Building, located on 12337 Jones Road.

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