June 18th, 2024

Accused seeks to strike guilty plea in impaired driving case


By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on January 12, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A Lethbridge woman who pleaded guilty in 2020 to one count of impaired driving causing bodily harm, then hoped to ask a judge to strike her guilty plea in 2021, may finally get the chance to do it this year.
The case was spoken to in Lethbridge provincial court Tuesday, but Judge Kristin Ailsby adjourned the matter until next month after confirming with the accused’s lawyer that she still plans to apply to strike the plea.
“Those are my present instructions, yes,” Lethbridge lawyer Ingrid Hess responded.
Hess, who became Jessica Lee Gearing’s lawyer after her first lawyer withdrew last September, said a series of events the past several months have delayed progress, but she should be ready to proceed with the application in a couple of weeks.
Ailsby instructed Hess to file her application this month, and directed the Crown to file its response by early February so a date for the hearing could be set when all parties return to court Feb. 18.
Following her guilty plea in November 2020, court was told Gearing, 33, had been in a bar in July 2019 and was preparing to drive away when an acquaintance tried to stop her from leaving. Gearing, however, ran over the woman as she drove away. The woman was taken to hospital with minor injuries and “significant” road rash, and Gearing, who was intoxicated at the time, was arrested a couple of hours later at her residence.
The Crown noted Gearing did not appear to realize she had driven over anyone.
At a sentencing hearing last July, the victim said she relives over and over again the “horror of that night,” and is unable to sleep well. And when sleep finally comes, it’s not restful because of her chronic pain.
“Being sleep deprived has become my reality,” she said.
She still has ringing in her ears and suffers from headaches.
“Sometimes the pain is so crushing, that I can barely breathe.”
In a letter which was read in court, Gearing explains she was diagnosed with manic depression, which played a role in her conduct that night.
“That doesn’t excuse my actions, and I do feel horrible for what I did,” she wrote. “It took several attempts at getting my meds right, and since being diagnosed I haven’t had an episode in over a year.”
During the July sentencing hearing the Crown recommended Gearing receive a jail sentence between one year and 15 months, while her first lawyer suggested an appropriate sentence would be between three and six months.

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