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Sun., Dec. 21
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Potsdam woman pleads guilty in pedestrian’s hit and run death

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CANTON — The Potsdam woman who struck and killed a pedestrian while driving drunk in March last year pleaded guilty Monday to the first of eight charges against her.

Laurel L. Randall, 45, of 16 Debra Drive, pleaded guilty to first-degree vehicular manslaughter, a class C felony, in a deal that would satisfy the additional charges she was facing.

Ms. Randall was indicted by a grand jury on charges of first- and second-degree vehicular manslaughter, first- and second-degree vehicular assault, tampering with physical evidence, leaving the scene of an incident without reporting, driving while intoxicated and aggravated DWI after she allegedly struck Fuli Wu, 59, as she was walking along May Road about 8:30 p.m. on March 30.

Ms. Randall admitted to drinking that afternoon before leaving a bar with two friends in her car about 8:30 p.m., according to court documents. In court Monday, she told County Judge Jerome J. Richards that her blood alcohol content was 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.

Driving around a bend on May Road that night, Ms. Randall struck something that shattered the passenger-side windshield of her car. She said a passenger in her car, Stephen E. Coates, got out to see what she hit and told her it was a deer and to “just go.”

Mr. Coates, 48, 4 Missouri Ave., Potsdam, was also indicted by a grand jury for allegedly helping Ms. Randall hide her vehicle in his garage after the incident. He faces a charge of tampering with physical evidence.

Ms. Randall’s second passenger, Leanna R. Perrigo-White, 34, Norfolk, called a friend who then reported the incident to police, according to documents. She was not charged in the case.

According to the plea deal struck with the county District Attorney’s Office, Ms. Randall faces a minimum of 1 to 5 years and a maximum of 5 to 15 years in state prison.

Judge Richards scheduled sentencing for May 5 and released Ms. Randall under continued probation supervision.

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