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Published: Tuesday, 5/17/2011

2 women found guilty for roles in man's death

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A year ago Sunday, Kelly Kowalski and Michelle Perry were strangers.

Monday, standing with their attorneys before a judge, the two women were found guilty of causing a crash in which Kowalski’s fiancé was killed.

Kowalski, 32, and Perry, 27, each pleaded no contest to aggravated vehicular homicide and were found guilty for their roles in the May 15, 2010, crash that killed Steven Guerrero, 28.

One had been speeding, the other made an illegal turn. Both women had been drinking alcohol, police said.

“The victim, Steven Guerrero, was a backseat passenger in the car driven by his fiancée, Ms. Kowalski,” Assistant County Prosecutor Ian English said. “Ms. Kowalski made an improper turn in front of a vehicle driven by Michelle Perry, who because of excessive speed, could not stop.”

Kowalski was westbound on West Sylvania Avenue at 2:30 a.m. when she attempted to turn left onto Burton Avenue and pulled in front of a vehicle driven by Perry. Mr. Guerrero, 28, was thrown from the car and died after being taken to Toledo Hospital with multiple blunt-force injuries.

Perry and a front-seat passenger in Kowalski’s vehicle were treated for injuries.

Mr. English said that Kowalski’s blood alcohol content was 0.149 percent, or nearly twice the legal limit in Ohio of 0.08 percent. Blood alcohol content taken medically from Perry while in the hospital showed that she too was above the legal limit.

Each woman was initially charged with aggravated vehicular homicide that included the element that alcohol was a contributing factor. The charges were felonies of the second degree and included mandatory time in prison.

Monday, Mr. English explained that because of evidentiary concerns, the women were entering pleas to an amended charge that lowered it to felonies of the third degree. They each face up to five years in prison when sentenced June 27 by Judge Myron Duhart.

Mr. English told the judge that Mr. Guerrero’s parents were aware of the agreement and agreed with it although they had “requested that the case be resolved in a manner more favorable to the defendant.”

“Yes, they understood where we were coming from with these charges but ultimately, they wanted the cases dismissed against these ladies because it wouldn’t do anything to bring back their son,” Mr. English said after the hearing.

Mr. Guerrero’s mother and father were in court Monday to show support for their son’s fiancée.

Contact Erica Blake at: eblakee@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.



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