Judge rules evidence admissible in Gentles trial

Family and friends of Rayel MacDonald and Alysha Mullet shared hugs and tears outside the courtroom Monday.

Family and friends of Rayel MacDonald and Alysha Mullet shared hugs and tears outside the courtroom Monday after Justice John D. Truscott ruled that all evidence related to impaired and dangerous driving charges is admissible in the trial of Martin William Gentles.

Gentles, 30, faces seven charges in B.C. Supreme Court in Williams Lake, including dangerous and impaired driving causing the death of MacDonald and bodily harm to Mullet on April 22, 2012.

He is also charged with failing to remain at the scene after the pickup he was driving allegedly collided with the two women as they were walking across Carson Drive in Williams Lake after the Indoor Rodeo Dance.

When the trial began on Monday, Nov. 24, two voir dire sessions were conducted on the admissibility of certain evidence.

Defence counsel Ken Walker argued Gentles’ charter rights had been violated because an alcohol screening device (ASD) test was administered by the RCMP after he was arrested on dangerous driving charges.

Walker told the court the RCMP had no right to continue investigating Gentles until he had spoken with a lawyer.

Truscott, however, ruled Const. James MacKinnon had reasonable grounds to suspect Mr. Gentles had alcohol in his body and had operated a motor vehicle within the preceding three hours and therefore had the authority to demand a sample of Mr. Gentle’s breath via the ASD before affording Mr. Gentles the right to counsel.

“Const. MacKinnon says as he was dealing with Mr. Gentles in the course of his arrest at the truck, he could smell alcohol on Mr. Gentles, and noticed signs of impairment,” Truscott said. “The ASD was administered to Mr. Gentles at 2:36 a.m. at the roadside and it registered a fail. There is no issue by Mr. Gentles that the ASD was administered improperly to produce a fail.”

The second voir dire dealt with a statement Gentles gave to the police following his discussion with counsel on the telephone at the RCMP detachment where he was taken after his arrest.

“It is clear to me that the statement that Mr. Gentles gave to the police, if the Crown wishes to use it, is admissible as being completely voluntary on the part of Mr. Gentles,” Truscott said.

The trial continued Monday morning with RCMP forensic toxicologist Christine Dagenais and civilian witness Tyler Kerr.

Dagenais had calculated the blood alcohol in Gentles’ body at the time of the collision to be in the range of 190 to 211 milligrams per cent. The legal limit is 50 milligrams.

Kerr told the court he was standing near his car and talking with friends in the alleyway of Carson Drive at around 2:15 a.m. that morning when he heard a thud, screaming and a “woosh” sound.

As he turned around he saw two women’s bodies — one flying, the other one on the road and  the back end of a pickup heading down Carson.

Kerr, a paramedic, ran to Mullet, the closest of the two, and yelled out for someone to call 911.

She was unconscious and not breathing, but he was able to administer first aid and get her breathing again.

His friend, a nurse, ran to MacDonald.

When cross-examining Kerr, Walker asked if it was the sound of brakes Kerr heard.

“I’m going to suggest to you that the sound you heard could have been the sound of brakes, although today you think it’s a woosh sound, is that possible?” Walker asked.

Kerr answered no.

“Something like that kind of gets burned in your memory,” he said.

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