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Bradenton hit-and-run suspect held in jail without bond

MANATEE -- A 38-year-old Bradenton man has been charged in the hit-and-run death of kindergarten student Kimora Samuel.

Kieron James went to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday and surrendered. He told investigators that he was the driver they were looking for. He was arrested and taken to Manatee County jail.

He faces charges of leaving the scene of a crash involving a death, leaving the scene with injuries and driving while license suspended. His bonds on those charges totals $365,000.

But even if he could come up with that amount, James would not be released because bond he posted after an earlier arrest for driving with a suspended license was also revoked.

The Florida Highway Patrol released news of the arrest Thursday morning.

James has a criminal history dating back to at least 1991, with numerous arrests and convictions for drug possession and drug dealing and traffic offenses, including driving with a revoked or suspended license.

Most recently, Circuit Judge Scott Brownell dismissed a cocaine possession charge against James that was filed after he was arrested Dec. 16, 2010. Brownell dismissed the case and several others because he found Florida's drug possession law to be unconstitutional.

Prosecutors are currently appealing the dismissal of the cases.

James was also charged with being a habitual traffic offender for driving with a revoked license and with driving with a suspended license. Court records show prosecutors "dropped/abandoned" the charges.

A Bradenton police officer had stopped James after observing him run a stop sign and cut off traffic, according to court records.

In the investigation of Kimora's death, FHP investigators impounded a dark-green, four-door 2002 KIA found at the Mira Lagos apartment complex Tuesday that matched the description of the car involved in the fatal accident.

The accident has prompted discussion and review at the school district, but short of providing transportation for after-school programs -- for which there is no funding -- there is nothing the district could have done differently, said Margi Nanney, spokeswoman for the Manatee School District.

“The children who have to walk will always be at some kind of risk,” Nanney said.

Kimora and her 15-year-old aunt, Richecar Polinice, were walking home from an after-school program at Orange Ridge-Bullock Elementary School when they were struck by a vehicle exiting Mira Lagos about 6:03 p.m. Monday.

The car turned left onto U.S. 41, hitting the girls as they tried to cross the road in the 3400 block. Witnesses said the driver failed to stop and continued southbound on U.S. 41.

Kimora died of her injuries. Richecar was treated for her injuries at Manatee Memorial Hospital, and was able to attend a vigil for her niece Tuesday night. They were less than a mile from Kimora’s home in DeSoto Village Apartments when she was killed.

Principal Doug DuPouy of Orange Ridge-Bullock Elementary said the family is working with Chandler Funeral Home in Sarasota, but that arrangements are incomplete.

Kimora’s organs were donated, he said.

Orange Ridge is also exploring a memorial to Kimora, but it is too early to tell what form that might take, Nanney said.

Grief counselors were at Orange Ridge on Tuesday and Wednesday, and were on call Wednesday for Southeast High School, where Richecar is a student, Nanney said.

Kimora, a kindergarten student, was participating in 21st Century Learning at Orange Ridge, where more than 200 children go to get tutoring, do homework, or take part in other learning activities.

She always walked home afterward with her mother, Sherley Mathieu, or Richecar, who had been designated by Mathieu as a representative of the family.

Mathieu, a nursing home assistant, had gone on a short shopping trip for her daughter Monday afternoon.

“Usually I go pick her up, but I said to my sister (Richecar) you go take care of her and I’m going to call a taxi, go to Walmart and get (presents),” Mathieu told the Herald.

“When I got home I called my sister’s cellphone. Another lady picked up the phone and said they had just got hit by a car,” Mathieu told the Herald.