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Verdict expected in rollover trial

Manitoba families who have spent the last two weeks watching an emotionally-charged trial will learn the verdict on Thursday for a young man accused in the death of his best friend.

Final arguments were presented before Justice Monica Bast in Red Deer Court of Queen’s on Tuesday in the trial of Preston Clifford Hanson.

He is charged in connection with the single-vehicle rollover that killed Nathan Michael Medwid.

Parents and other family members of both young men have watched from opposite sides of the courtroom during each day of the trial, which opened on Feb. 4.

Medwid died shortly before 2 a.m. on the morning of Dec. 5, 2006, after being ejected from his car when it rolled off Hwy 20, about five km north of Sylvan Lake.

An RCMP collision analyst testified that the car was “like a flying washing machine,” striking the ground at least four times before coming to rest on its right side.

Hanson was arrested at his home in Sylvan Lake in June 2010 and charged with impaired driving causing death.

Court heard that the two young men, both 19 at the time, moved to Alberta from their hometown of Swan River, Man., to seek their fortunes in the Alberta oilpatch.

They went for dinner in Red Deer on the evening of Dec. 4 and then went to a nightclub on the north side of the city, where they remained until about 1:45 a.m.

The crash was reported to 911 dispatch at 1:55.

Defence counsel Bob Sawers of Calgary argued that Crown prosecutor Tony Bell had not provided enough evidence to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Hanson was the man behind the wheel of the car when it left the road.

Hanson has admitted to lying about a third person driving the car while he and Medwid slept, said Sawers.

However, that admission and other circumstantial evidence presented in the Crown’s case are not enough to convict Hanson, he said.

Having the key to Medwid’s car in his pocket after the crash does not place Hanson behind the wheel, said Sawers.

Bell argued that hard evidence from the collision scene, including data from the car’s onboard computer, contradicts Sawers’ contention that Medwid was driving.

He said that, from the time he called 911 to report the crash, Hanson created a “calculated plan of deception” in relation to his role in the crash.

Bast is to announce her verdict at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday.

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