NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A teenager accused of striking and killing a 4-year-old with a sport-utility vehicle accepted a plea deal Thursday.

Franklin Reyes Jr., 18, pleaded guilty Thursday afternoon to manslaughter for the June 2013 death of Ariel Russo as well as to charges of assaulting a police officer and running from the cops. He faces a sentence of three to nine years in prison.

Reyes did not plead guilty to charges following his arrest with his father for looting an apartment; that case will go to trial.

“His reckless actions killed my daughter, maimed my mother and have shattered our lives. We’re never going to be the same again,” Ariel’s mother, Sofia Russo, said.

Sofia Russo told Cornell that when Reyes comes up for parole, she will be there in the courtroom to keep him in prison.

But as CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported, getting Reyes’ plea wasn’t easy– it took three court appearances in the last 24 hours.

Reyes first rejected the plea deal in court Wednesday.

The judge appeared stunned when Reyes turned down the deal. He informed him there would be no more offers and then gave him until Thursday morning to reconsider.

During his court appearance Thursday morning, Reyes at first agreed to plead guilty to manslaughter in Russo’s death and assault in connection with another incident in which he’s accused of dragging a police officer with his vehicle, WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported.

But Reyes then told the judge he was not guilty of assaulting the officer and said that the police beat him. At that, Judge Gregory Carro said, “I’m not accepting any of these pleas,” Cornell reported.

Reyes was then on his feet, saying, “But I want the three to nine!”

“He’s the worst kind of criminal,” Sofia Russo told Cornell. “One who does not take responsibility for what he’s done, one who does not own up, one who does not face the consequences of what he did. And it breaks my heart. It makes me so angry and so sad.”

The judge is giving Reyes one more chance Thursday afternoon to take the plea. Reyes will face trial if he does not take the deal.

The teen is accused of fatally running down Ariel while fleeing from police on the Upper West Side.

Ariel died after the SUV jumped a curb on Amsterdam Avenue at 97th Street while she was walking to school with her grandmother, who survived.

In September, Reyes was arrested again after allegedly dragging and injuring a police officer during a traffic stop.

While jailed days later, the teen complained of chest pains. After being cleared to leave the emergency room, he reportedly ran from authorities while being led back to a Department of Corrections van. He was apprehended 15 minutes later.

He and his father were also charged in June with looting an apartment where the father worked as the superintendent.

Police officers had to restrain Reyes’ mother and escort her out of court Wednesday after an emotional outburst.

Outside court, Lydia Reyes told reporters: “It was the last day of the school (year) when the accident happened. He was going to school. He made a mistake. He drove. But it was never his intention to hurt anybody.”

She blames police for pursuing her son prior to the fatal accident.

“You can only plead guilty to something that you did, but he didn’t do it,” Lydia Reyes said.

Reyes’ mother wasn’t in court for the final plea, but was outside.

“We are truly, truly sorry from the beginning,” she said.

Russo’s family said Reyes himself has never apologized, and even if he did it wouldn’t matter.

The Russos also have a civil lawsuit pending against Reyes.


Leave a Reply