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Ex-Watertown woman admits responsibility for former Lewis planner’s death

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LOWVILLE — A former Watertown woman admitted to causing the motor vehicle collision that killed Lewis County’s senior planner.

Deborah Aguirre-Kerwin, 40, who in Lewis County Court on Wednesday indicated she has recently been living near Copenhagen, pleaded guilty to the top count of aggravated vehicular homicide, also satisfying charges of 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, to avoid a trial slated for later this month.

Based on a plea deal, she is to face 4 1/3 to 13 years in state prison, along with possible restitution and court fees, when sentenced May 9, according to Acting County Judge Donald E. Todd.

That is roughly half of the prison term of 8 1/3 to 25 years to which she could be sentenced if convicted of the Class B felony at trial, the judge said.

Ms. Aguirre-Kerwin — while shedding several tears — admitted that while she was under the influence of the painkiller Soma, she drove into the path of an oncoming vehicle being driven by Renee J. Beyer, 39, on April 13 on Route 12 in the town of Harrisburg. Mrs. Beyer died a couple of days later at a Syracuse hospital of injuries suffered in the collision.

Following the plea, Judge Todd sent Ms. Aguirre-Kerwin to Lewis County jail without bail to await sentencing.

“In part, I’m doing this to protect you from yourself,” the judge said, noting the defendant has less chance of getting into trouble prior to sentencing if jailed locally.

The plea deal is conditioned on avoiding further crimes in the interim, cooperating with the Lewis County Probation Department on a pre-sentencing evaluation and showing up for sentencing, Judge Todd said.

Roughly half the courtroom was filled with family members, friends and former co-workers of Mrs. Beyer.

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