Jul 30, 2014

Teen Driver Pleads Not Guilty in Manslaughter

Seventeen-year-old appears in Martinez courtroom in case involving death of bike-riding father and daughter after April accident on Treat Boulevard, Concord.

Teen Driver Pleads Not Guilty in Manslaughter

Bay City News Service

A teen driver accused of killing a father and his 9-year old daughter as they went on a morning bike ride in Concord in April appeared in juvenile court for the first time Friday morning and pleaded not guilty to vehicular manslaughter charges.

The 17-year-old defendant entered the plea in a Martinez courtroom Friday morning in connection with the deaths of Concord resident Solaiman Nuri, 41, and his daughter Hadessa in a collision at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 7, on Treat Boulevard.

The defendant was charged with two counts of felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence as well as a misdemeanor charge of reckless driving causing bodily injury for allegedly hitting and injuring Hadessa's sister, 12-year-old Hannah Nuri, that morning.

The teen also pleaded not guilty Friday to two unrelated misdemeanor charges of alcohol possession and possession of a switchblade butterfly knife in connection with incidents in Walnut Creek in March.

Contra Costa County prosecutors filed the charges in late July after a lengthy police investigation, Senior Deputy District Attorney Dan Cabral said. Friday morning's plea entry comes more than four months after the fatal collision.

Police said the defendant was speeding down Treat Boulevard in his Escalade SUV when he struck the father and his two daughters as they rode their bicycles. Solaiman Nuri died at the scene and Hadessa succumbed to her injuries at John Muir Medical Center a short time later. Hannah suffered minor injuries in the crash.

Stoorai Nuri, the widow of Solaiman Nuri and Hannah and Hadessa's mother, sobbed as she heard the charges read in juvenile court Friday morning.

"I lost two loved ones — it's not going to bring them back," she told reporters, choking back sobs outside the courtroom. "I just want justice."

Michael Cardoza, an attorney for the Nuri family, said the defendant has not shown any remorse or reached out to the family since the fatal collision. Cardoza said the family had hoped the 17-year-old would be tried as an adult or at least jailed.

The defendant, who sat next to his attorney Peter Coleridge in court Friday, is out of custody and living with his parents in Concord.

Juvenile Court Judge Lois Haight said Friday morning that the teen is not in custody because the case was not charged in a timely manner.

Under state law, a juvenile must be charged with a felony within 48 hours to be jailed, prosecutors said.

"I think he's a dangerous person," Haight said of the defendant.

The judge asked the defendant's parents, who were present in court this morning, if their son has been on good behavior at home and whether he has a curfew. The pair said their son has a 10 p.m. curfew and has not been driving.

The judge said the teenager is not allowed to drive anything motorized other than a lawnmower and is forbidden from possessing alcohol, drugs or weapons.

The teen is set to return to juvenile court in Martinez at 9 a.m. on Sept. 7 for a pre-trial hearing.

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