The trial of Linnea Labbee charged in the fatal hit-and-run that caused the death of a 78-year-old woman in 2016 wrapped up in BC Supreme Court in Chilliwack on Tuesday (April 6).
“I feel very bad for this family your honour, I really do,” the 72-year-old Labbee said near the end of her final submissions. “But I was not driving the truck.”
Labbee is charged with one count of failing to stop at an accident causing bodily harm for an incident on Dec. 1, 2016 at the intersection of Mary Street and Patten Avenue.
|Fourghozaman Firoozian, who was the victim of a 2016 hit-and-run, seen here handing out food to the less fortunate downtown Chilliwack.|
There is little doubt that it was Labbee’s truck that killed 78-year-old Fourghozaman Firoozian who was in a marked crosswalk when she was struck by the vehicle.
Labbee’s credibility was questioned by Crown counsel Joe Saulnier in his final submissions due, in part, to the fact that her claims were either hearsay or not backed up by any witness testimony. Much of what Labbee reported on the witness stand herself was contradictory, some even nonsensical.
“She was an unreliable and incredible witness and her testimony should be rejected in its entirety,” Saulnier told the court.
Labbee’s testimony was that she drove to Southgate Shopping Centre on Yale Road in the morning of Dec. 1, 2016, and that she spent the whole day in the plaza or in adjacent stores in the area.
But Saulnier pointed out that Labbee was first seen on security footage at Southgate at 12:21 p.m., four minutes after the hit-and-run just over a block away. And Labbee withdrew money from her bank account at the CIBC on the corner of Young Road and Princess Avenue at 12:11 p.m., just six minutes before Firoozian was struck and killed.
At the shopping plaza she went into many of the shops, sometimes multiple times. Saulnier suggested this was to try to give herself an alibi, but all witnesses and security footage put her in the location after 12:21 p.m.
As she presented the court with final submissions, Labbee made many nonsensical claims that confounded Justice Brown, including that there were two men who looked different but went by the same name, William McCaulay, who gave different testimony at the preliminary inquiry and the trial. This was simply not true.
“There is no evidence that there is a Mr. McCaulay that testified at the preliminary inquiry,” Justice Brown responded. “He was not available and he did not testify.”
Then there was Labbee’s claim that the “crashing” sound witnesses heard when the victim was struck and killed could not have been from a pedestrian being struck “it had to be done by hitting something big.”
“I believe with all my heart that the grey truck was driving along the road and the blue truck was driving along the road in opposite directions,” she said. “I think they were watching each other and no one was watching the pedestrian. The blue truck and the grey truck hit and the pedestrian got caught in the middle.”
There is no evidence other vehicles were involved in any collision in the area at the time. That and Labbee’s truck not only was missing part of its grill, which was found at the scene, but Firoozian’s DNA was found on her vehicle.
Earlier, Labbee suggested her truck must have been stolen from Southgate, was involved in the fatal hit-and-run, and then was returned to the same parking spot. She repeatedly referred to a “native girl” who was hanging around the parking lot, a slur Justice Brown put and end to on the final day of the trial.
“The ethnicity of this woman has nothing to do with anything,” Brown told Labbee. “Referring to her in that fashion is racist and pejorative.”
But one of the most bizarre moments in the trial was when, on April 1, after several days of claiming she had witnesses to call to the stand but who she could not get a hold of, she finally gave a phone number of one of the witnesses to Justice Brown. The court clerk dialed the number provided, and then Saulnier pointed out that a phone could be heard vibrating in Labbee’s purse.
Labbee then denied her phone was on.
Justice Brown is scheduled to render her decision of guilty or not guilty on April 12 at 11 a.m. If found guilty, the sentence for the crime could range from a conditional sentence up to several years in prison.
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