A story about a plea deal in a criminal case related to the April deaths of two bicyclists in Concord misspelled the name of one of the cyclists. Her name is Hadees Nuri.
MARTINEZ -- A 17-year-old reckless driver who killed a father and daughter on a Concord sidewalk pleaded guilty Wednesday and attempted to apologize, only to be rebuffed by a grief-stricken family calling for stricter penalties against drivers who kill.
"I just want justice for myself and my family," a tearful Stoorai Nuri, wife and mother of the victims, said after the plea hearing. "It's very upsetting."
Concord resident David Rosen, who turns 18 next week, will likely spend three years in a juvenile rehabilitation facility after his sentencing Oct. 22. He was driving 72 mph on a 45 mph stretch of Treat Boulevard on April 7 when he swerved his 2002 Cadillac Escalade to avoid hitting another vehicle, jumped a sidewalk curb and killed 41-year-old Port of Oakland driver Solaiman Nuri and 9-year-old Hadees.
The victims and 12-year-old Hannah Nuri were on a Saturday morning bike ride near their Concord home when the father and daughters were hit by the errant SUV. Hannah Nuri suffered minor injuries.
Rosen was taken into juvenile hall custody Wednesday after pleading guilty to two counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and unlawful acts, and misdemeanor reckless driving causing injury for hitting Hannah. Unrelated charges for alcohol and knife possession were dismissed in exchange for the plea.
Judge Lois Haight told Rosen that she could order him incarcerated for seven years, eight months at his sentencing Oct. 22, though a prosecutor says the state is legally bound to release Rosen when he turns 21.
Stoorai Nuri wanted the teen, who was driving without insurance, prosecuted as an adult and to face significant prison time. She denied Rosen's courtroom request to apologize and told him through her attorney to wait for sentencing.
"We didn't hear (an apology) on the day he was arrested, when it would have meant something to us," Nuri family attorney Michael Cardoza said.
Rosen has been in therapy for grief and remorse, his attorney Peter Coleridge said. He is "not an evil person" and knows his actions were terrible.
"He is completely willing to accept the consequences for that," Coleridge said. "Since this happened, he's wanted to fully accept responsibility for what he's done."
The unlawful acts supporting Rosen's charges are speeding, unsafe turning movement, and use of a cell phone. Head juvenile prosecutor Dan Cabral said Rosen was not using his phone when he hit the Nuris, but he did use it earlier while driving and could have been distracted by shutting it off before losing control of his SUV.
Cabral said Rosen may end up serving more time than he would have had he been prosecuted as an adult. Because of prison realignment, in which the state has shifted custody of prisoners convicted of lower-level crimes to counties that don't have the jail capacity, the veteran prosecutor says he's seeing adults convicted of the same crimes being sentenced to less than one year in custody, with all or most of time served via electronic home detention.
"He would have never gone to state prison on this in adult court, in my opinion," Cabral said.
That does not provide solace to the Nuri family, which on Tuesday night attended a standing-room-only crowd of supporters at a Concord City Council meeting for the unveiling of a park bench to honor Solaiman and Hadessa Nuri. It will be placed under a tree at Ygnacio Valley Park, where the soccer dad coached his two daughters.
Inside the council chamber, everyone from the daughters' Woodside Elementary principal to neighbors, fellow Girl Scouts and soccer teammates grieved along with the Nuris.
The teammates wore homemade T-shirts with a picture of Solaiman and Hadessa Nuri and held up their soccer club banner.
As the image of the bench flashed on an overhead screen, Stoorai Nuri wept and clutched daughter Hannah.
Hadessa's uncle, Emal Karzai, said each member of the family has found his or her way to deal "with the emptiness in our hearts." His way is to look to the sky and hold long conversations with his brother-in-law and niece, knowing they are looking down on him.
Karzai named his newborn son after Solaiman and said he would be proud if his son became even "half the man" Solaiman was.
"I promise to tell the story of all the great things both Solaiman achieved and even Hadessa in her short life," Karzai said.
Karzai said the family will go to Sacramento to raise awareness about unsafe and distracted driving and pressure lawmakers to pass laws to enforce harsher punishments for drivers who kill.
"I ask today that everyone please take this pledge to not only share the emptiness of your heart but the joy and memories of Hadessa and Solaiman," Karzai said. "And remember the next time either you or someone you know is either speeding or texting, remember April 7, 2012 and how it impacted all our lives."