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    Sunday, May 19, 2024

    Rhode Island man rejects plea offer in Montville crash that killed mother and her son

    A Pawtucket, Rhode Island man has rejected an offer to spend 16 years in prison in exchange for pleading guilty to charges linked to the death of a mother and son from Norwich.

    Derion Coker, 29, is charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and two counts of second-degree manslaughter in connection with a Sept. 16, 2022, crash on Interstate 395 in Montville.

    Police said Coker was driving north when he struck and killed Jamie Krajewski, 33, and her son, 17-year-old Tyshon Harper, who were standing in the shoulder of the highway with a disabled vehicle.

    In Norwich Superior Court on April 9, Coker rejected the state’s offer, in which he would have had to plead guilty to two counts of second-degree manslaughter. The case is now on the trial list with an unspecified start date.

    Coker’s attorney, Paul V. Carty of New Haven, said the state’s plea offer was “not close to reasonable,” in light of what he argues are “glaring errors” in the state police investigation. Carty claims that Coker was not intoxicated at the time of the crash. He said Coker did not exhibit signs of intoxication after the crash and was not given a field sobriety test or blood test immediately following the crash.

    The 11:24 p.m. crash occurred in the northbound shoulder of I-395, just north of Exit 9 in Montville. Police said Krajewski and Harper were standing outside two different vehicles, one of which was broken down, when Coker’s Volkswagon Passat drifted into the shoulder and struck the two cars and the mother and son. Two other people were injured.

    Coker, who admitted drinking alcohol at Mohegan Sun before the crash, initially claimed “someone stepped out in front of his vehicle,” and that he “couldn’t react fast enough,“ according to the arrest warrant affidavit. Police allege Coker’s vehicle crossed into the shoulder, struck the two cars and continued into the guardrails.

    Police obtained surveillance footage from Coker’s time at Mohegan Sun prior to the crash that shows him drinking five drinks ― three alcoholic drinks and two beers ― between 8:04 p.m. and 10:18 p.m., according to the warrant. Police also said Coker appears to be driving erratically as he leaves the casino’s parking garage. Police said they found remnants of two marijuana joints in Coker’s vehicle.

    Carty said Coker, who is free on a $200,000 bond, is an “upstanding guy and family man” who works and stays out of trouble.

    Harper was the oldest of Krajewski’s five children and attended Norwich Free Academy. Members of Krajewski’s family could not be reached to comment.


    Editor’s note: This version corrects Coker’s address.

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