November 20, 2012 - 8:50 AM
Court opened Monday for the trial of the man accused of killing a 22-year-old Vernon woman with his car in 2010 and then fleeing the scene.
The accused, 28-year-old Chase Garett Donaldson, is being tried for dangerous driving causing the death of Kiera-Leigh Carlson and failing to remain at the scene.
Donaldson has plead not guilty to both counts. His B.C. Supreme Court trial is scheduled to span seven days, said Crown lawyer Iain Currie.
Carlson was walking to work along Aberdeen Road in Coldstream the night of April 30, 2010. Her body was discovered the next morning near the North Okanagan Regional District Office on Aberdeen Road, close to the intersection at Highway 6.
Dr. David Regehr, a local Vernon dentist, and his wife, Beth, were also on Aberdeen Rd that night, and were each called to the witness stand Monday.
The couple had been driving home from dinner at Intermezzo Restaurant in Vernon when they turned off Highway 6 onto Aberdeen Road and realized a car was coming at them dead-on in their driving lane and frightened them.
"If my husband hadn't swerved over into the other lane, we would have been killed," said Beth Regehr. Husband David confirmed earlier that morning: "By the time I passed the crosswalk (which runs parallel to the highway) he was in my lane... If I had travelled on in my lane I would have been hit."
The Regehrs came to a stop on the shoulder of the road, and took a moment to register what had just happened. Beth said she was angry, and wanted to get out and approach the driver of what she identified as "the white car" but her husband urged her not to.
"I was fearful," said David Regehr. "My impression was that a gang was in there."
They followed the car long enough to record the plate and called it in to police.
It wasn't until the next day, when RCMP phoned to tell them they may have been witness to a serious crime, that the Regehrs realized they weren't the real victims at all.
David recalled cycling home after receiving a call from his wife telling him he needed to get home because the RCMP were on their way to question them both. As David biked home along Aberdeen Rd, he passed the crime scene, and said he saw a tarp on the side of the road.
"I didn't know what was under the tarp," he said, "but I assumed the worst."
He told the court he has tried to reconstruct the events to remember if he saw Carlson, but can't recall ever seeing her.
The defense lawyers, Glenn Verdurmen and Paul Daniliu, questioned the Regehrs on the veracity of their accounts. Exchanges between the witness and the defense lawyer remained heated, and judge Frank Cole frequently had to remind them to wait for the other to finish before responding.
Beth was questioned heavily on her use of the word "swerve" to describe the movements of the oncoming white car. She clarified that what the car made a "quick arc" into their lane.
"Yes, I incorrectly used the word 'swerve' four times," she said. The significance of the change in wording or its impact was not immediately clear.
Court resumes today. Stay with us for details.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2012