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Driver pleads guilty in drunken crash that killed Kassandra Kaulius
The woman charged in connection with a crash that killed Surrey's Kassandra Kaulius in 2011 has pleaded guilty.
Natasha Warren, a criminology student who now lives in Port Coquitlam, initially faced four charges related to the death of Kaulius. On Friday morning in Surrey Provincial Court, Warren pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death, impaired driving causing death and failure to stop at an accident.
Warren ran from the accident and was later found in a nearby green space.
Kaulius died at the scene.
Warren's defense lawyer Mark Cacchioni said his client wanted to plead guilty right away, but he advised her not to.
"A lawyer would be negligent in the extreme for ever advising a client to plead guilty to any offense unless that lawyer would have had the opportunity to review the Crown's case," Cacchioni said. "We did not have that opportunity until very recently."
He said his client plans to do anything she can to become a positive role model.
"Ms. Warren was a criminology student, and plans to spend the rest of her life making amends for what she has done here," Cacchioni said Friday.
He said Warren will be doing jail time for the offense, noting that sentences for her charges range from two to five or six years in prison.
Kassandra's mother Markita Kaulius tearfully laid out the stark fact of the family's loss.
"We're pleased that she's pleaded guilty to this, it saves us going through a trial, but it doesn't change anything for us," she said. "For us, Kassandra is still gone... it's a loss to society, it's a loss to our family, to her friends and the community lost somebody very special."
Kaulius doesn't buy the defense's notion that Warren always wanted to plead guilty.
Warren (pictured left, in the centre) has given the family a letter of apology, but Kaulius couldn't say whether she would be reading it.
"I can't forgive her – my daughter is gone," Kaulius said. "I have a bedroom down the hall that still has all of her things
in it and there's a room waiting for her to come home. And she can't."
The Kaulius family has been pushing for stiffer drunk driving penalties, including an automatic two-year driving suspension for someone arrested for impaired driving. And if that person is impaired and involved in an accident, the family wants a minimum of a five-year jail sentence.
The family currently has an 8,000-name petition asking for tougher sentences, and Kaulius expects that to reach 10,000 names soon.
The family has created a Facebook site called Families for Justice where the public can get involved with the initiative.
The sentencing arguments are expected over a two-day period in December.