December 18, 2012 - 12:07 PM
Update: 1:00 p.m. Dec. 18
Chase Donaldson is guilty in the hit and run death of 22-year-old Kiera-Leigh Carlson.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Frank Cole based his decision on the accused's inconsistent testimony, research that showed he was speeding, and evidence given by witnesses.
"The accused did not tell the truth," Cole said of Donaldson's testimony.
Cole said Donaldson is guilty of dangerous driving causing death and failing to remain at the scene of an accident.
The decision confirmed what the victim's family believed all along: Donaldson lied about his actions before and after the fatal collision.
"It's brought a lot of emotions out," Len Carlson, Kiera's father, said of the verdict. "It's a first step for our family to move on.... But it doesn't bring her back."
Len gave a nod to Crown lawyer Iain Currie, who he said "has done an exceptional job."
Currie was relentless in his questioning of the accused, which lasted three days. During that time, Donaldson's account of what happened warped considerably, a point not missed by Supreme Court Justice Frank Cole.
"He destroyed his credibility," Cole said.
Cole said Donaldson's excuse for swerving across the road—that he was reacting to a perceived car coming at him in his lane—was fabricated to support his case. He said Donaldson failed to mention the appearance of the oncoming car in a call he made that night to ICBC.
"It would have been important to mention the other car if you were making a claim," Currie said earlier in the trial.
Donaldson's wife Marcia testified her husband had described seeing headlights coming at him which caused him to alter his course. But she never mentioned headlights specifically to the police. In a recorded statement, Marcia Donaldson said her husband saw a flash. In court, she said the flash was referring to headlights, but Cole concluded the flash her husband spoke of was describing Carlson, the "object" Donaldson says "streaked across the windshield" right after he felt a bump.
"I am satisfied the accused was going 90km/hr... showing off to his brother-in-law, and not watching the road," Cole said. Based on evidence given in court, Cole determined the accused was racing with his brother-in-law along Aberdeen Road, a residential street with a speed limit of 50 km/hr.
As for count two, failing to remain at the scene, Cole said, "Donaldson attempted to escape liability."
Cole said it would have been clear to Donaldson, based on his rate of speed and the impact, that a person could be dead or hurt on the side of the road.
"The 911 call shows he thought he did (hit a person)," Cole said of a call made from Donaldson's cell phone, which was documented in a phone record. "He hung up because he did not want to accept responsibility for what happened."
Cole said he found the defense's collision analyst, Kurt Ising, to be "an advocate" of the accused, and that he made assumptions in his calculations that would provide more appealing results to his client. He said the Crown's analyst, Sgt. Brian Nightingale, who said Donaldson must have been speeding, was a credible source.
Len Carlson said he lost sympathy for Donaldson's wife when she contributed to the fabricated story Donaldson had concocted.
"I understand it," he said of the attempt to help her husband. "But I don't accept it."
He said the only family of Donaldson he feels sorry for, are the children.
The maximum penalty for dangerous driving causing death is 14 years in prison, and he said Donaldson doesn't deserve any less.
"He chose to drive in the fashion he did," Len Carlson said, adding the hit and run was no accident.
"We think about it every day. We dream about it," Kiera's mother, Bev Carlson, said of the death of her youngest daughter.
Donaldson will appear in court on Friday at 10 a.m. for sentencing.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2012