What can I say; the heading kind of says it all. It was finally our day in court. Today, Trent Albert Mallet was found guilty of impaired driving causing death in the relation to the car accident on August 1, 2009 that caused the instant death of Donna Jean Kennie.
It was a long time coming and a guilty verdict was definitely not a “sure” thing. It’s been an 18-month up and down tumultuous emotional roller coaster with nearly a dozen trips to court, a funeral, a memorial, and countless hours of tears and heartache.
Today started with the judge addressing the admissibility of the medical records containing the blood alcohol analysis done at the hospital. This was in response to the two written briefs submitted by the crown prosecutor and the defense attorney (we hadn’t the opportunity to read them). It sounded like the defense’s grounds for arguing its exclusion were twofold. One, the defense claimed that the validity of the blood couldn’t be accepted by the court given there was no police chain of custody and because the crown did not have the blood analysis person testify to the methods used etc. Two, the defense claimed that the warrant for the medical records was a violation of the defendant’s charter of rights and freedoms. It sounded like the defense claimed that the police found out about the blood analysis from someone at the hospital and that constituted “inside information” which therefore made the warrant invalid.
We were on pins and needles as the judge pointed out quite clearly that if the warrant itself was deemed invalid, the fruits of the warrant would not be admissible in court. There could only be one reason he was pointing that out, right?
My heart was pounding through my chest. I couldn’t stop crying. I thought I was on the verge of hyperventilating or having a panic attack – maybe both simultaneously. My emotions were reeling, my palms sweating, my anxiety sky rocketing off the charts. If Trent walked out with a not-guilty, I simply did not know how our family would cope.
The judge started out by addressing the defense’s first claim. After a long speech summarizing the facts of the case, the judge basically said if doctors’ and nurses’ rely on the authenticity of these results, delivered in this manner, to make life and death decisions, then he felt they were good enough for a court of law to accept as valid and truthful.
On the second point, the judge said that given the seriousness of the case and the fact that the police were in the room the entire time the defendant was at the hospital, and therefore had witnessed the nurse drawing the medical blood; it was reasonable for them to issue the warrant for the medical records.
At this point, we knew the medical records were in. Relief was flooding over and throughout my body. Scott and I were holding hands tightly. We felt like things were finally going our way.
Then the judge went blow-by-blow through the case. He talked about the two friends that testified against Trent and had spoken about how he had drunk beer that morning and smoked a joint. He went over the testimony of the witness who had been driving right behind Donna who said that Donna wouldn’t have been able to avoid the truck careening towards her no matter what and that it was apparent that she was killed instantly. He went over the testimony of her 16-year-old grandson who was in the car with her and had given testimony that the truck had swerved towards them without notice and that Donna had swerved to try to avoid him. He also touched on his facial injuries along with the emotional turmoil of being a witness to his grandmother’s death. He talked about the first man on the scene to attend to Trent and how he had witnessed Trent crawling out of his truck and had helped him. That witness testified that he did not smell alcohol on Trent nor did he see any signs of impairment and the judge said that he did not believe that testimony. He recounted the two police officers who testified that they believed Trent to be impaired and that they smelled alcohol on him (among other things); one officer being a veteran with much experience in this arena. The judge reiterated how he believed their testimony. He went over the accident reconstruction testimony and report and how it showed that Donna had done everything possible to avoid the accident veering to the right and that the truck had swerved, without breaking at all, into her lane suddenly and without any “just” cause slamming into Donna nearly head on.
All of that, coupled with the fact that he accepted the validity of the medical blood and he accepted the evidence that the blood analysis expert gave as to the level of blood alcohol at the time of the accident and how that would have impacted Trent’s ability to operate a motor vehicle and respond in emergency situations.
That’s when the judge did it – that’s when he said those little words that made our hearts’ sing. He said “I therefore find Trent Albert Mallet GUILTY of impaired driving causing death!”
We were told to “shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!”
And then…unexpectedly….we got the sweetest gift of all; like all of our birthdays and Christmas for the last two years rolled into one.
The defense asked that Trent, as a gainfully employed contributing member of society (who was just convicted of shop lifting and assault in February this year I might add), be released into his own recognizance until sentencing.
And then…wait…the GIFT!
The judge said that giving the finding of guilty and the seriousness of the crime, the only appropriate thing to do what to reprimand Trent into jail immediately until sentencing.
Yes…read that again…reprimanded to jail IMMEDIATELY!!! YIPPPEEE!!!
For the first time since this court gong show started, Trent was finally getting everything he deserved. Trent, who had been self-righteous and indignant; who has actually slept during expert witness testimony; who had not shown up at different court sessions; and who had at every turn acted with ignorance obviously thinking that with his high-priced defense lawyer, he would never be found guilty LET ALONE sent to jail immediately, was squirming! He tried to speak out loud to the judge, he grabbed for the back of his lawyer to try to get his attention but it did not matter. The judge ruled and ruled swiftly and firmly; reprimanded to jail immediately and the case adjourned until sentencing!
“How sweet it is” was ringing through my ears!
Scott and I stayed and watched while Trent was drug off by the police; while he gave his mother a hug and his girlfriend one last kiss. We finally got to watch Trent experience a small amount of pain and discomfort – nothing compared to what his choices have inflicted on us but still – finally it was at least something. And finally, someone is held accountable for this tragic and completely unnecessary accident!
So what happens now?
Trent will be sentenced on April 5, 2011 – how rightfully so – this would have been Donna’s 62 birthday! We’ve been told it will be a minimum sentence of three years. Whatever it is, honestly it will never be enough. At this point, we’ll take the guilty and we’ll take whatever sentence we can get but let’s be clear, nothing will bring Mamma K back and nothing less than life in prison will feel like true justice.
But…a win…definitely a win today! An unexpected win at that!
A huge thank you for all your support and comments throughout this and for hanging on through the ranting posts (I promise there are many more to come).
If you are just tuning in, catch up on the whole story with some related posts:
- Part I – the accident
- Part II – court update I (two-day trial where the judge ruled the criminal blood evidence inadmissible)
- Part III – court update II (when the Prosecutor forgot to file appropriate paperwork)
- Part IV – court update III (expert testimony; that was deemed admissible)
And just in case you are interested in getting involved (if you live in Canada): answer this Call to Action (for random breath testing, which will prevent these accidents from happening in the FIRST place).