For the first five days of his trial, Brent Parent maintained an impassive, guarded demeanour as he heard the evidence against him.
That changed Monday when he took the stand in his own defence and gave his account of the events of March 13, 2008 in Langley which led to the death of 21-year-old Abbotsford resident Silas O’Brien and his trial on multiple road-rage-related criminal charges.
Parent, a Langley resident, testified that he did collide with the truck O’Brien and two friends were using to drive to Vancouver International Airport for a holiday trip, but he did not know he’d run over and killed O’Brien until the next day.
When Parent’s lawyer, Vincent Michaels, asked his client how he felt at hearing the news, Parent, who had testified in a calm, clear voice until then, was unable to speak for a moment.
“Sorry,” the 42-year-old said, removing his eyeglasses and dabbing at his eyes with a tissue.
“I felt sick,” he said. “I felt sick to my stomach.”
According to Parent, he was driving his Ford F350 diesel pickup quad cab heading home with his brother after a night out on 16 Avenue near 264 Street, when he was overtaken by another, fast-moving truck, a Chevy Silverado that flashed its high beams at him.
“The high beams came on and stayed on,” he said.
Parent said he tapped his brakes to get the other vehicle to back off, and when it tried to go around him and pass, he accelerated.
He heard a “rubbing noise” and saw the other truck go into the ditch.
Parent called his behaviour “stupid and childish.”
Parent denied deliberately turning into the other truck to force it off the road.
He said he took the long way back to the scene of the accident to give himself and the people in the other truck time to cool off.
“I was kind of in shock,” he said. “I figured that somebody would be not happy.”
Parent claimed as he approached the overturned truck and slowed down with his doors locked and windows closed, he could see three men by the side of the road, waving their arms and shouting.
“I could hear some yelling and it wasn’t pretty,” he said. “I think they were swearing and stuff.”
It appeared to him that two of the men were preparing to attack his truck, either kicking it or throwing something “that looked like a rock” at it.
“Three guys in the middle of the night, that late, the way things are these days, you don’t stop,” Parent said.
As he accelerated away, he heard a loud bang. He assumed something had been thrown at his truck.
He did not report the incident to police, he said, because he assumed everyone in the truck was “fine.”
Under cross-examination by Crown prosecutor Donna Ballyk, Parent insisted he was “miffed” when he thought the other truck had “high-beamed” him, but he wasn’t in a rage.
“I felt irritated,” he said.
“Annoyed?” Ballyk asked.
“It bugged you.”
“It was as if he [the other driver] was saying, ‘Speed up.’ “
“And when you tapped your brake, you were saying no.”
“Yes,” Parent said.
Under further questioning by the prosecutor, Parent said it was possible the other truck only appeared to have flashed its high beams because it rode higher than his truck on bigger tires.
Earlier in the trial, his brother Lloyd Teneycke testified that he had fallen asleep in his brother’s truck only to be awakened by a “rubbing” noise and the Ford pickup truck veering.
He told the court that after the collision with the Silverado, his brother drove back to see if anyone was hurt, but sped away because the young men from the other truck appeared angry and aggressive.
Teneycke said he and his brother had no idea they’d hit anyone until the next morning when they heard it on the news.
“The ground kind of came out from beneath me,” Teneycke said. “I was in shock.”
Brent “turned white,” he said.
They had returned to Parent’s home and went for a late-night soak in a hot tub to get caught up.
Teneycke was called as a witness for the prosecution, but he did not appear to bear his brother any animosity.
The two men appeared to chat amiably in the courthouse hallway after Teneycke testified.
Closing arguments in the trial are not expected until October, to give both defence and prosecution time to review written transcripts of the testimony.