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Potsdam pair sentenced for death of pedestrian last year

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CANTON — The Potsdam woman who admitted to hitting and killing a pedestrian last year while she was driving drunk was sentenced to prison Monday in St. Lawrence County Court.

Laurel L. Randall, 45, of 16 Debra Drive, was sentenced to 4 1/3 to 13 years in prison for her March 10 guilty plea to first-degree vehicular manslaughter

On March 30, 2013 Randall struck and killed Fuli Wu, 59, as Ms. Wu was walking along May Road in Potsdam that night.

With tears streaming down her face, Randall listened as Assistant District Attorney Joshua A. HaberkornHalm recounted that night when Randall, with a blood alcohol content of 0.21 percent, “plowed into Ms. Woo, leaving her to die on the road.”

“Her family found her bleeding from the head,” Mr. HaberkornHalm said. “There is a family without a mother today and a woman is dead.”

In a victim impact statement provided to the court, Ms. Wu’s son-in-law, Chenjie Miao, said, “Ms. Randall is a threat to public safety and the only way to protect the public is to incarcerate her for as long as possible.”

Randall’s attorney, Charles B. Nash, said while she could not change what happened that night she has made an effort to seek treatment for her problem with alcohol abuse. And he asked for Judge Richards to consider her efforts.

Given the opportunity it to address the court, Randall said knew she couldn’t bring Ms. Wu back but “she saved my life, if that makes any sense.”

“I follow your line of reasoning,” Judge Richards said. “You have taken steps, but they never would have been taken if it weren’t for this accident.”

In addition to her prison sentence, Randall was ordered to pay court fines fees and surcharges totaling $375.

Co-defendant Stephen E. Coates, 49, Hannacroix, formerly of 4 Missouri Ave., Potsdam, was sentenced to 45 days in St. Lawrence County jail and three years of probation, to be served concurrently for his March 11 guilty plea to felony attempted tampering with physical evidence.

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

Mr. HaberkornHalm pushed for a harsher sentence. He told the judge that after Randall struck Ms. Wu, Coates “checked on the woman, found her bleeding, left her there to die and hid the car in his garage.”

Coates apologized to Randall and her family and to the family of Ms. Wu, none of whom were present. He said he was remorseful for what happened that night and “nothing can rectify what happened that night.”

In addition to his sentence, Coates was ordered to pay $245 in court fines, fees and surcharges and his probation sentence was transferred to Greene County, where he now resides.

District Attorney Mary E. Rain, in a press release, said, “vehicular homicide and assault is a very serious problem in this country. This office has stepped up its efforts to garner convictions with heavy sentences. Today’s sentence and last week’s conviction on Daniel Lester reflect those efforts.”

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