The trial for the driver in a 2019 Whitehorse crash that killed two teenagers wrapped up on Dec. 16 after a six-month delay, with the Crown and defence offering different theories of what led to the single-vehicle collision.
Anthony Andre, 23, faces two counts of impaired driving causing death, one count of impaired driving causing bodily harm and three counts of driving with a blood alcohol level at or exceeding 80 milligrams.
He was behind the wheel in the early hours of May 13, 2019, when his car crashed on Hamilton Boulevard near Falcon Drive, killing 18-year-old passengers Stallion Smarch, from Whitehorse, and Faith Lynn Papineau, who also used the last name Jakesta, from Watson Lake.
A third passenger, Jay Charlie, survived with non-life-threatening injuries, while a fourth passenger along with Andre were unharmed.
Andre's judge-alone trial in Yukon territorial court began on June 1 and continued June 2, but was put on hold after Charlie, a key witness, was hospitalized. Charlie then failed to show up to several subsequent court dates and didn't appear in court again until Dec. 16, after he was taken into custody for other matters.
Andre was shoved, defence claims
In closing submissions, defence lawyer Malcolm Campbell said he wasn't disputing the fact that Andre was driving while intoxicated, but pointed to Charlie's testimony indicating alcohol wasn't the reason for the crash.
Charlie testified that Andre and the fourth passenger, Laurence Patterson-Smith, had gotten into an argument while Andre was driving.
Patterson-Smith, who had been sitting in the backseat on the driver's side, suddenly shoved Andre's head into the driver-side window, Charlie claimed, at which point Andre lost control of the car — something Campbell argued was not "reasonably foreseeable" and would have caused any driver to lose control of a vehicle.
Campbell also pointed to the testimony of a witness who had been travelling behind Andre on Hamilton Boulevard shortly before the crash and said that the driving was unremarkable — the car was travelling at a normal speed and wasn't swerving — until the car suddenly veered off the road.
That testimony combined with Charlie's, Campbell argued, was enough to indicate that Andre, although drunk, was not the reason why the crash occurred.
Testimony unreliable, says Crown
Crown attorney Leo Lane, however, argued that Charlie's testimony couldn't be trusted. Charlie was Andre's friend and was also intoxicated that night, Lane said, pointing out that his recall of other events, such as where Andre had stopped for gas, whether he had been talking to Papineau in the lead-up to the crash and where the crash happened, were inconsistent.
Patterson-Smith, who also testified during the trial, denied shoving Andre's head and was "indignant" at the suggestion that he had, Lane said, and while Andre didn't testify at trial, his statement to police after the crash made no mention of anyone shoving him.
Instead, Lane argued, a toxicology report indicated that Andre would have had a blood alcohol level two times over the legal limit at the time of the crash — well within the range where his vision, ability to judge distances and reaction time would have been impaired.
Lane also noted that first responders testified that Andre had repeatedly said, "I killed them," at the scene, which he said was an indication of Andre taking "explicit" responsibility for what happened.
Campbell, in reply, acknowledged that there were issues with Charlie's testimony but that he had been consistent and "unshaken" about Patterson-Smith shoving Andre's head into the window.
Judge Peter Chisholm reserved his decision, which isn't expected until next year.