Hit-and-run trial adjourns abruptly over error involving accused's video statement to police

The trial of Maurice Johnson in the 2018 hit-and-run death of Brady Francis came to an abrupt halt Wednesday because the accused's videotaped statement to police had not been edited in accordance with the judge's decision.

The Moncton Court of Queen's Bench also heard that the blood found on the front of Johnson's damaged pickup truck did not match Francis's DNA.

The trial will resume Thursday at 9:30 a.m. and the video of Johnson's statement is now expected to be shown on Monday.

Francis, 22, of Elsipogtog First Nation was found dead in Saint-Charles, about 100 kilometres north of Moncton, on Feb. 24, 2018.

Johnson, 57, has pleaded not guilty to failing to stop at the scene of an accident that caused a person's death. RCMP announced the charge against him in June of 2018.

Last summer, there was a voir dire on the admissibility of Johnson's five-hour interview with police and Justice Denise LeBlanc ruled certain portions were inadmissible.

The Moncton Court of Queen's Bench was scheduled to watch the edited four-hour version of the video Wednesday morning, but Crown prosecutor Pierre Gionet informed the court he watched it on Tuesday night and noticed some parts that weren't supposed to be in there were, while other parts that were supposed to be in there were missing.

The judge said she understands and is not looking to lay blame, but noted she asked at least five times whether the video was ready.

She said she is disappointed for Johnson and Brady Francis's family.

Pierre Fournier/CBC

On Tuesday, the trial saw security video of the victim walking on the road on the night he was killed and a tan vehicle passing by shortly afterward.

RCMP Const. Caroline Thibodeau testified the video showed Francis walking eastbound on Saint-Charles South Road at  about 9:34 p.m.

The vehicle that passed around 9:40 p.m. was of interest, she said, because that was about the same time police received a 911 call about a possible hit and run.

Language issues 

The accused had asked to be tried in French, but so far witnesses have been testifying in both French and English.

The victim's family had asked that translation services be provided by the court during this trial. Those services were not provided, but family members were told they could provide their own translation and there would be a courtroom available for them to use.

On Tuesday afternoon, the family moved to the other room where Cheryl Haynes is volunteering to provide translation.