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Unlicensed Teen Driver Who Fatally Struck 4-Year-Old on UWS Takes Plea Deal

By Trevor Kapp | March 5, 2015 5:50pm
 Franklin Reyes will be sentenced to up to nine years in prison.
Franklin Reyes will be sentenced to up to nine years in prison.
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DNAinfo/ Emily Frost

MANHATTAN CRIMINAL COURT — The unlicensed teen driver who fatally struck 4-year-old Ariel Russo on the Upper West Side while fleeing police nearly two years ago pleaded guilty on Thursday and faces up to nine years in prison.

Franklin Reyes, 18, copped to manslaughter, assault and other charges in connection with killing Russo on June 4, 2013, after rejecting the same deal from Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Gregory Carro a day earlier.

Reyes, who also faced charges of dragging an NYPD officer about 100 feet with his car on Sept. 1, 2014, initially turned down the same plea deal on Wednesday but was given another day to reconsider. 

He was set to admit to the charges on Thursday morning, but his plea was rejected by Carro after Reyes denied dragging the officer in the Sept. 1 incident.

“I’m not accepting these pleas,” Carro said Thursday morning.

As he was being led out of the courtroom in handcuffs, Reyes shouted, “Your honor, I assaulted the officer!”

Carro then gave Reyes another opportunity to enter a plea Thursday that Reyes accepted and used to plead guilty.

Following the appearance, Russo’s family blasted Reyes as a selfish, immature killer.

“There’s been no remorse, no apology,” Russo’s mother, Sofia Russo, said following the proceeding. “I feel like when he gets out, he’ll be back to his same reckless self.”

Russo’s father said no amount of jail time would bring his daughter back.

"We know he's a coward," Alan Russo said. "He shouldn't be out on the street."

Reyes is due back in court to face a separate burglary charge March 25.

He faces anywhere from three to nine years in prison on the original charges.