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March trial expected for Watertown woman in Lewis planner fatality

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LOWVILLE — A trial is slated to begin in late March in the case of a Watertown woman accused of causing the motor vehicle collision that killed Lewis County’s senior planner.

Acting Lewis County Judge Donald E. Todd scheduled a possible starting date of March 31 for the trial in the case of Deborah Aguirre-Kerwin, with a hearing set for Feb. 28 to discuss any pre-trial issues.

Ms. Aguirre-Kerwin, 40, of 1429 Gill St., Apt 446B, is charged with aggravated vehicular manslaughter, second-degree manslaughter, driving while ability impaired by drugs, seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, failure to keep right and driving left of pavement markings. She was accused of, on April 13, while under the influence of carisoprodol and meprobamate, driving into the path of an oncoming vehicle being driven by Renee J. Beyer, 39, on Route 12 in the town of Harrisburg. Mrs. Beyer died after the collision.

A Huntley hearing, designed to determine whether statements made to police were given voluntarily, was held Wednesday, with Judge Todd reserving judgement in the matter.

The sole witness at the hearing was Dale W. Roberts, senior investigator with the Lewis County Sheriff’s Department.

During questioning by District Attorney Leanne K. Moser and defense attorney Jill F. Spielmann, Mr. Roberts testified that he first spoke with Ms. Aguirre-Kerwin three days after the crash during a roughly four-minute telephone conversation from her hospital room at Upstate Medical University, Syracuse.

Mr. Roberts said he primarily asked her how she was doing physically, although she did divulge that she was heading to work at Lewis County General Hospital at the time of the crash and had gotten food at McDonald’s on the way. The investigator said he also asked if she had been on any medications, and she claimed to have taken one prescribed pill a couple of nights prior to the crash.

While Ms. Aguirre-Kerwin had indicated she was on pain-killers during the brief conversation, “her answers were clear and lucid,” Mr. Roberts said.

The senior investigator said he spoke with Ms. Aguirre-Kerwin again on May 30, when, with assistance from a Lewis County deputy and Watertown police officer, he went to her residence to make an arrest. Since she was still in a wheelchair at the time, her son was allowed to bring her to Lowville for processing at the Lewis County Public Safety Building and arraignment, he said.

While at the PSB, Mr. Roberts said he read Ms. Aguirre-Kerwin her Miranda rights, and she declined to be interviewed without an attorney. The investigator said she then was allowed to read over paperwork in the case and made unsolicited comments about swerving to avoid barrels coming off a truck and not meaning to do it, which he included in his report.

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