The Crown in a dangerous driving causing death case in Vernon Supreme Court has made its point very clear: the accused is lying.
Final submissions in the case of Chase Donaldson, who was accused in the hit and run death of Kiera-Leigh Carlson, were submitted yesterday, leaving the next step in the hands of Supreme Court Justice Frank Cole.
Crown prosecutor Iain Currie said in his written submission that all of Donaldson's evidence in his own defence should be "wholly rejected as untruthful."
"The accused was unconcerned with fidelity to the truth, and said whatever seemed best to serve his defense," he said.
He focused on the most significant pieces of Donaldson's evidence, saying the fact the accused called 911 and promptly hung up proves the charge of failing to remain at the scene of an accident.
"There was no plausible reason for him to call 911 other than an incriminating suspicion that he had struck a person, and no conceivable reason to hang up the phone other than to avoid liability for the accident," Currie said.
Donaldson gave several inconsistent answers about the call to 911, including telling police he never actually made the call. But it has become a central point in the case, one that was not lost on the judge.
"One of my concerns is this 911 call we know was made," Cole said. "When the phone records were put to him, it was obvious he couldn't have been there (at the RDNO building)."
But that wasn't the only issue Cole had with the call. He asked defence lawyers why, if Donaldson had an inkling he might have hit a person, did he not speak to 911 after dialing the number.
"If a person's life was at issue, why would he not elicit help?" Cole asked.
Defense lawyer Glenn Verdurmen echoed his client's statement, saying, "He didn't know what he'd hit."
The reply wasn't good enough for Cole, who said there was no evidence Donaldson had hit something other than a person, and that everything pointed to the reality that a human being had been hit.
Cole pointed out that during his cross-examination, Donaldson admitted, "Yes, I should have called 911."
Cole has placed a tentative date of Dec. 18 to announce his decision on whether or not Donaldson is guilty of his charges. He indicated the date may be moved up to the end of this week. The afternoon court session was brief—just long enough for Cole to make inquiries into the two submissions placed before him.
In the submission given by defense lawyers Glenn Verdurmen and Paul Danyliu, a notably different light was cast on the accused.
"(Donaldson) was not glib, coy, or evasive. He was solemn, and on at least one occasion appeared to be tearful."
He said Donaldson's actions do not amount to an act that should be criminalized.
"There is no proof beyond a reasonable doubt that there is a marked departure from the standard of care that a reasonable person would have observed in the accused's circumstances."
In their conclusion, the defense lawyers highlighted inconsistencies of two eye-witnesses—a husband and wife who were in the same vehicle.
They also noted that the two collision analysts who said Donaldson must have been going above the speed limit based on evidence at the scene "had very little physical evidence to base their opinions on."
The experts had tire marks, the debris field, and the accused's vehicle, among other things, to use in their calculations.
Cole must now decide if Donaldson is a liar, as the Crown suggests, or a remorseful individual who doesn't deserve to be branded a criminal.