By Shurtz, Delon on May 8, 2020.
The verdict in a 2018 hit-and-run case in which a man was killed while walking on the highway south of Lethbridge has been adjourned until later this summer.
Judge Paul Pharo was scheduled to give his decision Thursday in Lethbridge provincial court, but the matter was brought forward in March in light of the COVD-19 pandemic and adjourned to July 16 when a new date for sentencing will be set.
Michael White Quills, 32, stood trial in January on a single charge of failing to stop at the scene of a collision causing death. During his own testimony he admitted he struck something with his parents’ truck as he was leaving Lethbridge on Highway 5 about 4 a.m. on Sept. 2, 2018, but he thought it was an animal.
The victim, 26-year-old Gage Christian Good Rider, and a female companion, D.J. Long Time Squirrel, were walking down the highway after spending the day in Lethbridge drinking and consuming drugs. Long Time Squirrel’s car had broken down earlier in the day and they had decided to walk to her home on the east side of the Blood Reserve.
White Quills, who admitted drinking up to 11 cans of beer during the previous 20 hours, testified he did not see anyone on the road just before he looked down at his radio. He said he didn’t stop his vehicle after the collision because he was “fairly certain” he hit a deer. He surrendered to the police a couple of days later after learning through social media a man had been killed in the collision.
During closing arguments Calgary lawyer Balfour Der said the judge should return a not-guilty verdict because the Crown did not provide any evidence that White Quills knew he had struck a person. Der reminded the court his client was not on trial for careless driving or drinking and driving, but for knowingly fleeing the scene of an accident where a man had been killed.
Crown prosecutor Erin Olsen said, however, White Quills likely knew he had struck and killed a person or was “wilfully blind” to the possibility. She said most people would have stopped following a serious collision, and even though White Quills eventually turned himself into police, he did so only after spending the day competing in a rodeo and drinking more beer.
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