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Judge delays plea by girlfriend in fatal Hawaii watercraft crash

    This Honolulu Police Department mugshot shows Natasha Ryan, 21, of Brisbane, Australia.

The girlfriend of the Australian tourist convicted of fatally injuring a Northern California girl in a Keehi Lagoon jet ski crash was granted a two-month court continuance today on a charge that she misled police by deleting video she had taken of the August accident.

District Judge Leslie Hayashi granted the request by Natasha Ryan, 21, a Brisbane dental hygienist, requested by her attorney, Walter Rodby. Rodby said the extra time will be used to work out details for Ryan to enter a guilty plea by mail. 

Ryan’s next District Court hearing will be Nov. 5.

Ryan, who was not in court this morning, is facing a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $2,000 fine for second-degree hindering prosecution. She is free on $500 bail.

Rodby declined to say if Ryan has returned to Australia. Her Australian passport was never taken from her when she was charged on Aug. 11 and posted bail. However, criminal defense attorney Eric Seitz said a provision of any bail is that the defendant cannot leave the islands.

Rodby said he wants to work out an arrangement in which Ryan would plead guilty or no contest — which he said is common for misdemeanor offenses — by mail.

He said he hopes to reach an agreement with city prosecutors and present it to the judge in November after it is signed by Ryan.

Ryan turned herself in to Honolulu police detectives on Aug. 11 — six days following the Keehi Lagoon accident in which her boyfriend, Tyson Dagley, drove his rented personal watercraft into one driven by Kristen Fonseca, 16, of Vacaville, Calif., at the Aloha Jet Ski Rental complex. Fonseca died a day later of brain injury.

Rodby said Ryan feels “remorse” over what she did.

“At the time the video was erased, Tyson was still in the hospital,” Rodby told reporters after today’s brief District Court hearing. “Tyson’s parents were on their way to Hawaii.

“Natasha was alone and not thinking straight and thought that would be a good thing for Tyson,”

Police said she misled investigators during the negligent homicide investigation.

Hindering prosecution is a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to a year in prison. Dagley was standing on his rented watercraft on Aug. 5 before it hit Fonseca’s watercraft from behind. Dagley’s defense attorney conceded that Dagley was not paying attention to where he was going, only looking at his girlfriend, who was taking video and photos.

A police report said Ryan told police Dagley was traveling at slow or 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. 

A forensic computer examiner with HPD was able to recover two deleted video segments from the memory stick in Ryan’s Olympus digital camera, one of which shows the collision, police said. In the video, Dagley appears to be standing on the watercraft, the report said.

Dagley pleaded no contest to third-degree homicide and was sentenced Wednesday to 12 days in jail, which he had already served, and ordered to pay the Fonseca family $78,000 in restitution. Dagley was granted a deferred acceptance of a no-contest plea, which means that the misdemeanor conviction would be erased from his U.S. criminal record if he stays out of trouble for a year.

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