JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. - Former Washington County, Tennessee school bus driver Brenda Gray stepped up to the courtroom podium to address Judge Robert Cupp and repeated the same word several times: guilty.
Gray entered guilty pleas to eight counts of reckless aggravated assault, one count of felony reckless endangerment and speeding.
Her pleas come almost two years after she was at the wheel of the bus that crashed, injuring 39 students she was driving home from David Crockett High School.
"We entered what we call a best interest plea to resolve and put this case to rest," said Gray's attorney Cliff Corker. "Miss Gray was very interested in getting this thing resolved she has a real tender heart towards children. She's been a bus driver all of her life, so this has been kind of a cloud hanging over her head since this incident that happened."
One of the students hurt in the crash is Rene Warren, who suffered severe back, head and foot injuries. She tells us she still lives with the crash everyday. "It's like if I'm in the car I tense up at every little thing," Warren said. "It freaks me out."
"She's scared to drive," said Rene's mother, Sharon. "She's going to be driving in a couple of months and it scares me. I'm just glad she's okay."
Gray could spend a maximum of six years in jail after she's sentenced. She is asking for judicial diversion which means she could get probation and the conviction could be wiped from her record if she completes the court's requirements.
Her attorney says it was definitely in her best interest to take this plea. "She certainly could get more time if we went to trial and lost," Corker said. "It's one of those it could go either way."
"I honestly don't care how much time she gets. I just want it to be over with," Rene Warren said.
Judge Robert Cupp set Gray's sentencing hearing for Wednesday morning July 23 at 9:00.