Man charged in fatal rollover found not guilty
By LAURA TESTER
Questions about who may have been the driver led to a Red Deer judge finding a 25-year-old man not guilty on Thursday of impaired driving causing death.
Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Monica Bast found Preston Clifford Hanson, 25, not guilty following a trial that began on Feb. 4.
Hanson was arrested at his home in Sylvan Lake in June 2010 and was charged in connection with a crash that resulted in the death of his friend, Nathan Michael Medwid, 19, early on Dec. 5, 2006.
Medwid died after being ejected from his car after it rolled at least four times on Hwy 20, about five kms north of Sylvan Lake.
The men had gone to a Red Deer bar to go drinking on the night of Dec. 4, 2006.
Bast said there was no direct evidence presented during the trial to show that Hanson was the driver.
The Crown evidence was circumstantial, she added.
As a result, Bast said there was enough reasonable doubt that Hanson was not the driver.
Still, she said concluding this does not mean to say Medwid was the driver.
“The Crown was unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt (that Hanson was),” said Bast.
Bast said the Crown inferred that Hanson was the driver through various circumstantial evidence, including that Medwid was sleeping in the passenger seat of his car while outside the bar during one point of the evening.
Plus, Hanson was found to have the key inside his coat pocket and that he had lied to emergency responders about a female driving that night.
However, the defence also pointed out a number of factors, including that the car had been owned by Medwid and that there were no steering wheel injuries sustained by either men, both of whom hadn’t been wearing seatbelts. Hanson had the key to turn the car off after impact and it was still running, court heard.
Hanson had told several people, including police, that he wasn’t the driver. Initially, he told emergency responders that a woman had driven in an effort to save himself and Medwid from trouble, not knowing that his friend had died, court had heard.