A charge of failing to remain at the scene of an accident has been dropped against Brent Parent, the 40-year-old Langley man on trial for allegedly running down and killing 21-year-old Silas O’Brien of Abbotsford on March 13, 2008.
Crown prosecutor Donna Ballyk made the announcement as closing arguments in the road rage trial got underway Friday morning (Nov. 4) in a B.C. Supreme Court chamber in New Westminster.
The prosecution, Ballyk said, “admits at the start that it has failed to prove [the charge] beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The exact wording of the withdrawn criminal count refers to a person who “with intent to escape civil or criminal liability fails to stop the vehicle” at an accident scene.
Defence lawyer Vincent Michaels suggested that the removal of what he described as a “hit-and-run” charge amounts to an admission by the prosecution that his client did not deliberately run down O’Brien.
Michaels argued that the fatal collision occurred when Parent returned to the scene of the collision in the 25800 block of 16 Avenue in Langley when it was an “unusually dark night with no ambient lighting” and that when the enraged young men from the truck that had landed in the ditch charged at Parent, he drove away without realizing he’d hit one of them.
Four other charges against Parent remain, including criminal negligence causing death, dangerous driving causing death, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and failure to stop at an accident with a vehicle.
The prosecution says that Parent became enraged while driving home with his brother late at night because he thought the truck O’Brien was riding in had deliberately flashed its high beams at him.
Parent, according to the Crown, first deliberately drove his vehicle into the other truck and forced it off the road and into a ditch, then returned to the scene of the accident where he ran down O’Brien (pictured at left).
Defence lawyer Michaels said the “fundamental” question is whether the prosecution has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that his client is guilty of the named offences.
Michaels said the two O’Brien friends who were in the truck with him, Sam Dooley and Luke Stephen, were not reliable witnesses.
He noted that while Dooley and Stephen claimed they did not swear or make threats after their truck ended up in the ditch, two eyewitnesses who spoke to the three young men shortly before Parent returned to the crash scene said the opposite, that the young men were obviously upset and angry and using the “F-word” and were making threats against the driver of the other truck.
Michaels said Dooley and Stephen have altered their testimony to throw as much blame as they can on his client “to minimize their fault and maximize Parent’s responsibility.”
Michaels said that while his client acted in a “hotheaded and immature way” by deliberately tapping his brakes to obstruct them, the three young men contributed to the confrontation by charging at Parent’s pickup truck when he returned to see if anyone had been hurt.
Michaels said the two young men exaggerated the first, accidental collision into a deliberate one and inflated Parent turning his truck toward them to illuminate the scene with his headlights into a deliberate swerve at them to make events “larger than life …. as inculpatory and inflammatory as possible.”
The judge was expected to reserve his decision until a later date.