Prosecutors filed one misdemeanor charge against Cole, with a maximum sentence of a year in jail. But because the case is so high profile, her attorney is concerned about getting a fair hearing.
A mangled hunk of metal is what's left of the SUV investigators say started the Greyhound bus crash that killed six people, including all three young women in the SUV. 18-year-old Sylvia Garay was in the driver's seat and investigators say her blood alcohol content was at least .11.
Prosecutors say Garay and the other two underage girls who died went to A-1 liquor store and bought the alcohol, with help from a then-21-year-old friend, Michelle Kay Cole.
"It was an 18-year-old girl who created the situation behind the wheel," said Fresno County district attorney Elizabeth Egan. "It was the 21-year-old who provided alcohol to that girl."
Prosecutors announced the charges against Cole in front of the wrecked SUV as a reminder of the possible consequences of buying alcohol for minor. They won't pursue criminal charges against the clerk who sold Cole the alcohol, or the man at whose apartment Garay drank the alcohol. Cole's attorney says she always knew criminal charges were a possibility, but she stayed in touch with investigators.
"She's cooperated fully," said Martin Taleisnik. "I don't believe she's ever tried to hide anything. She basically lost three very good friends in the accident."
Taleisnik says he's concerned that since Cole is the only person facing criminal charges in connection with the deadly crash, prosecutors may pursue her case with extra vigor. But he says she's not going to take the blame for the whole tragedy that followed her decision.
"She understands her part in this," he said. "She's not assuming or taking on the responsibility for the entirety of the consequences."
Cole was cited and technically arrested at her home Monday, but she never went to jail. She's due in court on August 23.