New video shows St. Pete teens crash stolen car into pond

Newly-released video could hold answers to what happened in the seconds before a car carrying three teen girls from St. Petersburg crashed into a pond.

The March 31 crash killed 15-year-olds Laniya Miller and Ashaunti Butler, and 16-year-old Dominique Battle.

Deputies say the car was stolen and the girls had prior criminal records. But last week, lawyers for the mothers of two of the girls called into question investigators' accounts of what happened.

The sheriff's office has since released dash cam videos, radio transmissions, scene photos and what they say is every piece of material known to be available.

While the families are hurting, investigators are trying to understand what drove three teen girls to their death in that dark, murky water.

"She was my baby. She was loving and caring," said Miller's mother, Natasha Winkler on April 11.

A deputy first spotted he girls on Sunset Point Road near U.S. 19 in the early morning hours of March 31. The car didn't have its headlights on.

The deputy activated lights and siren, but dash cam video shows the teens kept driving on. The deputy did not pursue them, even after seeing them go through a stoplight.

When another deputy saw the vehicle and confirmed it had been stolen, they followed behind at a distance. The dash cam video is very important because lawyers representing two of the girls' mothers have accused deputies of chasing them into the pond at Royal Palm Cemetery in St. Petersburg.

"I only want the truth. I need answers and I need closure," Winkler said on April 11.

The sheriff's office answered the accusation in the form of newly-released dash cam video, radio transmissions, photos and reports.

At an April 11 press conference, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said, "They were in a stolen car at 4 in the morning running from the police. And very, very unfortunately, whichever one of the three of them was driving that car made a bad decision."

Dash cam video from 3:56 a.m. shows the girls' car drive down a dead-end road. Some deputies pull over, waiting for them to turn around.

You can see two deputies continue following the teens in the video. All three cars weave through the unlit, winding cemetery at more than 30 miles per hour.

Eventually, the teens' tail lights disappear and the deputy in front hits the brakes.

"He's off-road, in the water, they're in the water stranded," a deputy says over the radio, calling for help.

According to deputies, muddy water, thick vegetation and unstable ground made it too dangerous for them to get in the water.

A dive team later recovered the car and the bodies. New photos show parking lights activated, but no headlights, as deputies observed. They also show a strawberry daiquiri bottle in the backseat.

Though the sheriff was not available for an interview Monday, he has maintained that if mistakes were made, they weren't on his end.

"I feel for the family and I understand the emotions they're going through, but I also can't let them turn it on us because we didn't do anything wrong," he said on April 11.

We reached out to the attorneys representing the teens' families. They got the pile of documents and DVDs at the very moment we did. Until they've fully read through and watched the new materials, they won't comment.