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Ogdensburg man pleads guilty to August hit-and-run death

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CANTON — An Ogdensburg man admitted Wednesday in St. Lawrence County Court to being on a cocktail of drugs and alcohol on the August night he struck and killed a 19-year-old Lancaster man.

Devin B. Ferguson-Brenno, 27, of 209 Gilbert St., pleaded guilty to second-degree vehicular manslaughter, a class D felony, in a plea deal before a scheduled suppression hearing that would have brought into question statements he made to police at the time of his arrest.

In addition to the vehicular manslaughter charge, Mr. Ferguson-Brenno was facing charges of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death and tampering with physical evidence, both felonies; second-degree obstruction of governmental administration and driving while intoxicated, both misdemeanors, and multiple traffic violations.

In court Wednesday, he told St. Lawrence County Judge Jerome J. Richards that he had been under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, psychedelic mushrooms and opiates about 9 p.m. Aug. 4 while operating a Honda CRV on County Route 6 in the town of Morristown when he struck and killed Benjamin M. Schick.

Mr. Ferguson-Brenno told Judge Richards, when asked, that there is no doubt in his mind that he was impaired at the time of the accident. “I thought I might have hit a dog,” he said.

“But in fact you hit a human being and you didn’t stop?” Judge Richards asked.

“Yes,” Mr. Ferguson-Brenno said softly, hanging his head.

As a part of the plea deal, Mr. Ferguson-Brenno faces 2⅓ to 7 years in prison.

In an emailed news release, District Attorney Mary E. Rain said she hoped Mr. Schick’s family would find “solace and emotional relief” by Mr. Ferguson-Brenno’s plea to the top count of the indictment. “This has been a long and painful ordeal for the family of Mr. Schick,” Ms. Rain wrote. “This outcome should be a message, if you are high and behind the wheel, we will seek justice and where appropriate the maximum sentence that the law provides.”

Police on Nov. 26 extradited him from Arizona, where he was staying with family. He will continue to be held in St. Lawrence County jail without bail pending sentencing, which is scheduled for Sept. 8.

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