Brent Parent said nothing as the charges against him were read out by a court clerk Monday morning in a B.C. Supreme Court chamber in New Westminster.
As each count, his lawyer spoke for him, saying “Mr. Parent pleads not guilty.”
There were five road rage-related charges against the Langley man.
They include criminal negligence causing the death of 21-year-old Silas O’Brien of Abbotsford on March 13, 2008 in Langley, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and leaving the scene of the accident.
More than a dozen family and friends of O’Brien showed up for the first day of court, forcing court administrators to change courtrooms to find one big enough to accommodate everyone.
A grim-faced Parent, who is not in custody, arrived with a female companion who was careful to sit apart from the O’Brien family in the courtroom visitor’s gallery after Parent took his seat in the trial chamber.
In her opening statement, Crown Prosecutor Donna Ballyk said the evidence will show that immediately after Parent ran O’Brien down, he went home and sat in his hot tub having beer with his brother and talking so loudly that they disturbed a neighbour.
The next day, police arrested Parent and his brother as they were leaving the property.
By then a distinctive sled deck had been removed from the truck Parent allegedly used to run down O’Brien.
Ballyk said the evidence will show that O’Brien and two friends were in a Chevy Silverado heading to the airport and a flight to Hawaii when they made contact with a Ford F250 truck driven by Parent, whose brother was riding with him.
The Silverado was hit a glancing blow on the passenger side, while the Ford suffered a scrape on the driver’s side.
After that, Ballyk said, Parent ran the Ford off the road into a ditch, then returned and ran O’Brien down.
At the time, Parent was 38.
(2008 crash scene photo by John GORDON / Langley Times)
The first witness called by the prosecution was a former New Westminster Police officer who was a member of the regional Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) assigned to the case.
At The Times’ press deadline, Natasha Purba was testifying about the paint scrapings that show the Parent and O’Brien vehicles made physical contact.
She also took the judge through the initial IHIT photographs of the crime scene that included images of the blood stain left where O’Brien hit the pavement.
According to the prosecution, as O’Brien and his friends, Sam Dooley and Luke Stevens, also 21, were driving to the airport around 2 a.m. to make their flight.
They came upon a white Ford F250 driven by Parent with a sled carrier for snowmobiles and other recreational vehicles on the back.
The Ford was stopped in the road in the 25800 block of 16 Avenue.
When the Silverado went to drive around it, the Ford began moving, which is when the two vehicles made contact.
The Ford circled back and ran the Silverado off the road, causing it to flip into a ditch.
The three occupants were standing on the side of the road surveying the damage when the F250 returned.
Dooley and Stevens jumped out of the way but O’Brien was hit.
He died at the scene.
O’Brien and his friends were members of the Cloverdale Bible Way church, part of a tight-knit youth group
They attended a prayer meeting the night before they left for Hawaii, joined by more than 500 members of their congregation including their families, who were there to wish the trio a good trip.
O’Brien left behind six siblings, parents, and many friends.
He also had a girlfriend Megan Williamson, a competitive figure skater with the Langley Skating Club.
The trial has been scheduled for 10 days before B.C. Supreme Court justice Terence A. Schultes
The Crown lawyer is expected to wrap up the prosecution case by the end of the week.
Then it will be the turn of defence lawyer Vincent Michaels.
Parent faces a possible sentence of life in prison if convicted.