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Hit-and-run suspect has record

LOUISVILLE — A motorist accused in the hit-and-run killing of two young girls while fleeing a police traffic stop has been arrested 16 times since 2001 and will remain jailed on a $250,000 bond, a judge said Monday.

Kenielle D. Finch, 26, is accused of hitting the girls, ages 4 and 5, with his car while trying to elude a police traffic stop near the University of Louisville on Friday. He has been charged with two counts of murder, aggravated assault, and fleeing and evading police.

Finch requested a public defender at Monday's arraignment, but did not speak further.

Police said Finch was speeding away from an officer when he struck Claudia Faye Wadlington, 5, and her friend, Riley Jane Lawrence, 4, as they crossed a street Friday with Claudia's mother, Angie Wadlington. Finch had been stopped for a suspected traffic violation before he sped away, prompting the chase.

Finch's car was found abandoned two blocks from the spot where the girls were hit. Police arrested him later Friday.

Claudia died at the scene. Riley was pronounced dead at Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville.

Claudia's mother, Angie Wadlington, also was struck. She had a broken arm and a leg injury and was released from a hospital over the weekend.

Family friend Sherita Pennington said Finch expressed remorse for the deaths.

”He didn't mean to do it. He's really sorry,“ Pennington said he told a relative.

Court records show that Finch has been arrested since 2001 on more than 70 charges, ranging from possession of marijuana and cocaine to carrying a concealed weapon to resisting arrest. He was sentenced to prison twice on drug charges and had outstanding warrants when he was arrested, authorities said.

Finch's mother, Denise Finch, watched the arraignment in a public viewing room. Afterward, she described her son as a ”good guy.“

”He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,“ she said. ”I'm upset. I'm very upset.“

The deaths prompted visitors to leave a makeshift memorial of flowers and stuffed animals at the intersection where the girls were struck. A funeral for the two girls is scheduled Tuesday in Louisville.

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