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Potsdam man pleads guilty to hiding car that caused pedestrian death

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CANTON — A Potsdam man accused of hiding a car involved in the death of a pedestrian last March admitted to the charge in St. Lawrence County Court Tuesday.

Stephen E. Coates, 48, of 4 Missouri Ave., pleaded guilty to felony attempted tampering with physical evidence in a plea deal with the district attorney’s office. He was originally charged with tampering with physical evidence.

Coates was indicted with Laurel L. Randall, 45, of 16 Debra Drive, by a grand jury after an intoxicated Randall struck Fuli Wu, 59, as she was walking along May Road about 8:30 p.m. March 30.

Following the hit-and-run crash, Coates, a passenger in the car, hid Randall’s vehicle in his garage.

Ms. Randall pleaded guilty Monday in to felony first-degree vehicular manslaughter in a deal that satisfied seven additional charges against her. Those charges included second-degree vehicular manslaughter, first- and second-degree vehicular assault, tampering with physical evidence, leaving the scene of a fatal motor vehicle accident without reporting it, driving while intoxicated and aggravated DWI.

She admitted to St. Lawrence County Judge Jerome J. Richards to having a blood alcohol content of 0.21 percent that night. The threshold for intoxication under state law is 0.08 percent. Aggravated DWI is charged when the BAC is 0.18 percent or higher.

Sentencing for Coates and Randall has been set for April 5. Both were released under probation supervision. While no commitment has been made by the court on Coates’s sentencing, Randall can be sentenced to anywhere between 1 and 15 years in prison.

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