Guilty verdict in fatal road rage case
Saying he didn't believe the testimony of Brent Parent, a B.C. Supreme Court judge convicted the 42-year-old Langley man of three road-rage-related charges in the death of Silas O’Brien, 21, of Abbotsford on March 13, 2008.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Terence A. Schultes told the Thursday (Jan. 19) hearing that Parent's version of events made no sense, calling it "inconsistent with common sense and ordinary human experience" and adding that he found it to "ring completely hollow."
Much of Parent's testimony, Justice Schultes said, was "a fairly clumsy effort" by the accused to distance himself from his actions.
Schultes said Parent was using his "large and powerful truck to bully others on the road" the evening O'Brien and his friends were driving through Langley on their way to Seattle and a vacation flight to Hawaii.
Parent, who was driving a diesel Ford F350, became enraged when he thought that the Chevy Silverado O’Brien (pictured) was riding in had deliberately flashed its high beams at him.
He forced the pickup carrying O'Brien and his friends off the road and into a ditch, then returned to the scene where O'Brien was run down and killed.
Parent said it was all an accident, that he did not deliberately try to force the other truck into the ditch, but the judge dismissed that, noting forensic evidence showed the Parent truck made contact with the other vehicle three times in a few seconds before the crash.
"Mr. Parent deliberately initiated the physical contact to assert the dominance of his vehicle," Schultes said.
Parent's claim that he swerved his truck toward the accident scene as he approached to illuminate it with his headlights was also rejected by the judge, who said it was an attempt "to intimidate or frighten" the three young men who had climbed out of the overturned Silverado.
Schultes also noted Parent's failure to phone police about the accident, calling it "telling."
However, the judge accepted Parent's claim that he did not deliberately run down O'Brien and that he left the scene without realizing it.
Schultes said there were also inconsistencies in the testimony of O'Brien's two friends who were in the truck with him, Sam Dooley and Luke Stephen, but they were not enough to prevent him from finding Parent guilty of criminal negligence causing death, dangerous driving and failure to stop at an accident with a vehicle.
The judge acquitted Parent of one charge of dangerous driving causing death, citing the legal principle that a person cannot be convicted twice for the same offence.
A fifth charge, an additional count of leaving the scene of an accident was stayed because prosecutor Donna Ballyk has earlier conceded that Parent did not know he'd run down O'Brien.
Parent, who is not in custody, will be sentenced in April.
Outside court, O'Brien's parents (pictured leaving the hearing) expressed relief at the verdict and thanked the judge and Crown prosecutors.
"It's done," mother Michelle O'Brien said.
"It's the only way it could have gone," father Rodger said.
They said the family plans to attend the sentencing hearing.
Parent's lawyer Vincent Michaels said his clint was "shocked and disappointed" by the verdict.
In response to reporter questions Michaels said he would have to study the written transcript of the judge's reasons before any decision on an appeal could be made.