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Driver in fatal North Shore crash pleads no contest

    2013 SEPTEMBER 16 2013 CTY Nicole Russo, walks out of court after pleading to negligent homicide and assault for head-on collision she caused near Kawela Bay in April last year that killed her front seat passenger and injured the other motorist. SA PHOTO BY CRAIG T. KOJIMA

The driver in a fatal head-on collision near Kawela Bay last year pleaded no contest in state court this morning to negligent homicide and assault.

Nicole Marie Russo, 23, faces up to 10 years in prison for the negligent homicide and up to a year in jail for the assault at sentencing in February. However, she has indicated her intent to ask for a deferral of her no contest pleas to avoid conviction.

The state says Russo was behind the wheel of a vehicle that crossed the center line on Kamehameha Highway Apr. 11 last year and crashed head-on into a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction. 

Russo’s front seat passenger, 24-year-old Joshua Plandor, of Haleiwa, died Apr. 29 from injuries he suffered in the crash. Russo and the other driver also sustained injuries.

The state says Russo was drunk, high and speeding. The prosecutor said Russo’s blood alcohol content was 0.17, more than double the legal threshold for drunken driving, and that she also tested positive for marijuana.

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