Woman who parked for ducks can appeal conviction
Published Wednesday, August 20, 2014 10:08AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 20, 2014 12:53PM EDT
The woman who was found guilty for parking on a highway and causing two deaths will have her case heard by Quebec's Court of Appeals.
Emma Czornobaj was convicted in June for criminal negligence causing death, and dangerous driving causing the deaths of André Roy and his daughter Jessie.
However in July Czornobaj's lawyer filed a motion to appeal, a motion which was granted on Aug. 20.
Czornobaj's lawyer argued that Justice Eliane Perreault made an error in law, and should have instructed the jury to take Czornobaj's state of mind into account to assess her level of criminal intent when she stopped.
The defence team also believes the guilty verdict was unreasonable given the evidence presented.
Lawyer Marc Labelle said his case "presented a person who wanted to save ducks. There was no racing, no alcohol, no bad things involved."
The defence lawyer implied he will argue that it should not be possible to be convicted of a crime without intending to commit a crime.
"We want the Court of Appeal to review the situation in Canadian criminal law where you have some situations where you have a person without criminal intent is nevertheless convicted of a criminal offense," said Labelle.
Criminal negligence causing death carries a maximum life sentence while the charge of dangerous driving causing death carries a maximum of 14 years in jail.
The Crown and defence lawyers have already made their sentencing arguments, with the judge expected to render a decision on Sept. 19.
During the first hearing the court heard how on June 27, 2010 Emma Czornobaj, then 21 years old, parked her car in the left-hand lane of Highway 30, then got out in an attempt to wave ducklings into her vehicle.
Several witnesses testified that they were distracted by seeing Czornobaj on the median, and coming around a blind curve just missed slamming into her car.
Roy and his wife, Pauline Volikakis, were riding their motorcycles on the highway when they were caught off guard.
Both motorcycles slammed into the parked car.
Roy died at the scene in his wife's arms, while Jessie was pinned underneath the car and died in hospital.
The highway safety code states that stopping a car or walking on a highway are only allowed in case of "necessity," although what constitutes a necessity is not defined.
During her trial, Czornobaj testified that if the same thing were to happen today she would not stop on the highway.
What is Criminal Negligence?
Canada's criminal code defines Criminal Negligence as the following:
219. (1) Every one is criminally negligent who (a) in doing anything, or (b) in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do, shows wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons.
220. Every person who by criminal negligence causes death to another person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable (a) where a firearm is used in the commission of the offence, to imprisonment for life and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of four years; and (b) in any other case, to imprisonment for life.