Emma Czornobaj, 25, of Châteauguay, faces two counts each of criminal negligence and dangerous driving causing death stemming from an accident on June 27, 2010, where she suddenly braked on Highway 30 in Candiac to avoid hitting a family of ducks.
Andre Roy, 50, and his 16-year-old daughter Jessie were riding on a motorcycle behind Czornobaj’s car and died as a result of the accident.
The charges Czornobaj faces were filed at the Longueuil courthouse more than a year later, on August 16, 2011. Earlier this year, a judge agreed to a change-of-venue request that saw the case transferred to Montreal.
Czornobaj entered a not guilty plea to all four charges she faces after the jury was selected. Czornobaj was accompanied by relatives Monday as Superior Court Justice Éliane Perreault presided over the jury selection. The fifth-floor courtroom the case was assigned to was modified a few years ago to include a large, imposing prisoner’s dock intended to hold many accused at one time behind thick windows that stretch nearly as high as the ceiling. Czornobaj, who was charged by summons, is not detained and will not be required to sit in the prisoner’s dock for her trial.
The charges she faces are very serious. She is accused under a section of the Criminal Code that calls for a maximum life sentence if she is convicted of criminal negligence causing death. The other charge, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death, carries a maximum 14-year prison term upon conviction.
Perreault informed the people who were selected for the jury that the trial is expected to last about three weeks. Eight witnesses will be called by the prosecution, including a mechanic, a coroner and at least two police officers.
The jury was selected within six hours and includes a disproportionate ratio of men to women — 10 to two. A woman and a man were chosen as alternate jurors in case any of the other twelve are not able to show up for the trial on Tuesday. Before jury selection began, Perreault asked all potential jurors to disclose whether they had been the victims of a car accident or knew someone who had been in one. One man said he was injured in a car accident when he was a teenager after letting a friend drive his car. At least two other people from the jury pool said they knew people who died in car accidents. All were disqualified as potential jurors.
Included among the jurors are two retirees, a legal assistant, an engineer and a purchaser for a retail store. In the coming days, they will be asked to determine, beyond a reasonable doubt, whether the accident involved criminal negligence or if they have heard enough evidence to find the accused guilty of dangerous driving causing death.
Czornobaj will be represented by Marc Labelle. The Crown will be represented by two prosecutors from Longueuil — Annie-Claude Chasse and Sylvie Villeneuve.
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Unusual court case may test limits of criminal negligence, dangerous driving charges
Stupid yes...but criminal negligence? I will be curious to see how this plays out.