By THE CANADIAN PRESS
CALGARY — The lawyer for a Calgary man accused of driving a pickup truck into a group of people standing outside a bar, killing an 18-year-old, says he’s surprised at the charge of first-degree murder.
Jeffrey Kevin Leinen, 24, is alleged to have driven his truck through a group of people after management at the Texas Mickey Bar in Olds, north of Calgary, asked a man to leave early Friday morning.
Nicholas Baier, a student at Olds College, died. Another 19-year-old, who is also a student at the college, was also injured and taken to hospital.
Leinen also faces a charge of dangerous driving causing death and impaired operation of a motor vehicle causing death.
Lawyer Andre Ouellette said the Crown has “way overcharged” Leinen.
“Unless there’s something extremely clear about planning and deliberation, it seems to be it’s overcharging. Having said that, I’ll have to see the evidence,” Ouellette said outside court Monday.
He said a conviction on first-degree murder can be difficult to prove, especially when it comes to premeditation.
“There have been similar cases where they’ve tried to charge even second-degree murder and it’s generally a case of overcharging,” he said.
“My understanding here if the investigation was done properly, there would certainly be a substantial amount of blood alcohol in a number of people, including, as I understand, my client. That had a lot to do with forming an intention,” Ouellette added.
Several of Baier’s friends, including a witness who was part of the group run down by the pickup, sat at the back of the courtroom as Leinen made a brief court appearance.
The next court date in the case is Wednesday, but in Didsbury, Alta.
Police said the truck drove away after hitting the group, and that an officer who was nearby followed, but abandoned the chase due to safety concerns.
Officers later arrested a suspect who they say was trying to climb out of a pickup which had rolled onto its side.
Ouellette said his client has received stitches to his hand, an ear and has cuts on his face.
A similar incident happened on New Year’s Eve 2006 in Calgary.
Samrat Dhuna was convicted of manslaughter for driving the wrong way down a one-way street and plowing his van into a crowd.
Raminder Dhadda, 24, died and two of her friends were critically injured.
Dhuna was found guilty on eight of 12 charges, including aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, assault causing bodily harm and hit and run.
He was removed from Canada and returned to India when he became eligible for day parole earlier this year.