POSTED: 10:43 a.m. HST, Nov 27, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 11:17 a.m. HST, Nov 27, 2012
The 21-year-old girlfriend of the Australian tourist convicted of causing the death of a Northern California teenage girl in August plans to enter a plea of no contest to a misdemeanor charge of misleading police during the criminal investigation.
Under a plea by mail submitted to the District Court this morning Natasha Ryan, a Brisbane dental hygienist, admitted that she purposely deleted video she had taken of the Aug. 5 personal watercraft accident in Keehi Lagoon that killed Kristen Fonseca, 16, of Vacaville, Calif.
Her attorney, Walter Rodby, worked out an arrangement and submitted it to District Judge Leslie Hayashi this morning. Hayashi continued the case until Dec. 14 while Rodby works out terms of the deferral with Ryan and the prosecution.
Ryan would not spend any time in jail under the plan. She had faced a maximum jail term of one year.
Ryan left islands following the Aug. 5 incident and is free on $500 bail.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Darryl Miyahira told Hayashi that there was “no excuse” for what Ryan did and she should be fined the maximum $2,000 for the crime of second-degree hindering prosecution. Rodby requested that Ryan only be fined $500 — the amount she posted as bail.
Miyahira also objected to the defense's proposal that the judge grant Ryan a deferred acceptance of no-contest plea, which means that if she stays out of trouble for six months the offense would be wiped off her U.S. criminal record.
But Hayashi pointed out that Ryan’s boyfriend, Tyson Dagley, was granted a deferral after he pled no contest for causing the death of Fonseca.
Rodby said he had received more than 50 letters and e-mails in support of Ryan.
In his request for a $2,000 fine, Miyahira said that two days elapsed before Ryan was interrogated by police and told detectives that she didn’t take videos of the accident.
Miyahira said Ryan showed a “high degree of criminality” when she lied to police.
But Rodby said that Ryan was here without the support of friends or family and hadn’t slept for two days before she was interrogated in his office.
Rodby said that since returning to Australia, Ryan has been getting counseling for post traumatic stress.
Ryan’s boyfriend, Dagley, was standing on his rented watercraft on Aug. 5 before it hit Fonseca's watercraft from behind. Dagley admitted he was not paying attention to where he was going, only looking at his girlfriend, who was taking video and photos.
Dagley pleaded no contest to third-degree homicide in September and was sentenced to 12 days he had already spent in jail because he was unable to make bail. He also was ordered to pay the Fonseca family $78,000 in restitution. Dagley was granted a deferred acceptance of a no-contest plea and the conviction will be removed from his U.S. criminal record if he stays out of trouble for a year.
Rodby said that Dagley's only obligation now is to mail his monthly restitution payment to the courts here.
Ryan had told police that Dagley was going slow or at medium speed throughout his rides and before the collision was sitting down and looking straight ahead. She said she didn’t see the collision and didn’t take photos of it.
An HPD forensic computer technician was able to recover two deleted video segments from the memory stick in Ryan’s Olympus camera, one of which shows the collision, according to police. In the video, Dagley appears to be standing on the watercraft, the report said.
In September, Ryan was granted a two-month continuance to work out the details of a guilty plea by mail. She was charged on Aug. 11
Fonseca’s family has filed a wrongful death suit against Dagley and Aloha Jet Ski Rental.