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Jury to continue deliberations in vehicular homicide case

| Monday, Nov. 11, 2002, 12:00 p.m.

An Allegheny County jury will continue deliberations Tuesday in the trial of a Natrona Heights motorist charged with striking and killing an 81-year-old pedestrian who was crossing a Downtown street.

The jury of six men and six women deliberated about three hours Friday in the case of Dennis E. Russell, 36, of Maple Street, before being sent home by Common Pleas Judge Kathleen Durkin. The courts are closed today in observance of Veterans Day.

Russell is charged in the death of Frances Dillon, who was struck July 4, 2000, while crossing the Boulevard of the Allies at Smithfield Street.

The defendant, who was returning home from a concert and had been drinking at a Strip District bar, is charged with vehicular homicide while under the influence of alcohol, aggravated assault with a motor vehicle while intoxicated, drunken driving and causing an accident resulting in death or serious injury.

A breath test showed that Russell had a blood-alcohol reading of 0.152 percent. A Pennsylvania motorist is considered intoxicated at 0.10 percent.

Russell said he panicked when he was unable to avoid striking the victim.

Two Pittsburgh police officers near the scene yelled for the defendant to stop as he drove toward the Smithfield Street Bridge. The defendant stopped, officers said, and showed signs of intoxication when he spoke.

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