Teen that fatally struck Ariel Russo with SUV faces child’s grandmother in court for first time

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(PIX11) – Ariel Russo’s grandmother, Katia Guttierez, saw the man accused of taking her granddaughter’s life for the first time in court Wednesday.

The grandmother was hysterical when she came face-to-face with the driver.

“It felt terrible,” said a tearful Gutierrez about seeing Franklin Reyes. “This person has no idea – he just has no idea the chaos and the pain he has caused this family and I feel he needs to pay.”

The same accident that killed Ariel put Katia in the hospital for three weeks. Though she has attended physical therapy four days a week, she still appeared in court in a wheelchair and a leg brace.

Police say the 58-year-old was walking with her granddaughter to school on the Upper West Side when Reyes, 17, ran into them in his SUV. He was fleeing police when he slammed into little Ariel. He only had a learner’s permit, and was not allowed to drive alone.

Reyes faces a manslaughter charge in the 4-year old’s death.

Reyes’ defense attorney is looking for a plea deal on the manslaughter charge, but Ariel’s mom says it wouldn’t be fair.

Others, including the Russo’s lawyer, say it’s an outrage and that “only the maximum sentence is appropriate for this defendant.”