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Teen Charged In DUI Crash That Left Man Paralyzed Headed To Trial

BUTLER, Pa. (KDKA) -- A teenager charged with allegedly driving under the influence in a crash that left a man paralyzed is going to trial, but one of the charges she originally faced is now off the table.

When 18-year-old Gina Machi came to court Wednesday surrounded by supporters, she faced charges - including aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI - in an accident that resulted in paralysis for 73-year-old Joseph Smithco.

Back in August, police say she slammed into Smithco's pickup truck as he left the CoGo's parking lot, headed onto Route 8 in Middlesex Township.

The impact was with such a force that Smithco was thrown across the road, 65 feet from his vehicle.

Police also say drugs were allegedly involved.

For example, they say they found a substance called marijuana wax in her vehicle, a product of extracting THC from marijuana, which provides a more potent high, say police.

They also say she used an e-cigarette to inhale it.

But her attorney says after a closer look at the evidence, while DUI charges remain, the felony aggravated assault was dropped.

"After a review of the facts and a further accident investigation, looking at causation of the accident, the nature of the intersection where it occurred, there's been an agreement reached between the Commonwealth and defense in this case to have it withdrawn, the aggravated assault by DUI charge. So that charge has been withdrawn," said defense attorney David Cercone. "There were some amendments on the DUI charge, and based on that agreement, we have waived the case into court."

The history of accidents at that intersection on Route 8 will be issues raised by the defense.

At this point, though, those issues will be settled at trial.

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