Amherstburg man accused of impaired driving testifies 'I'm a cautious driver'
The trial of an Amherstburg man accused of 10 charges relating to a crash that killed a Michigan woman continued on Thursday.
Cole Rickett, 30, took the stand in his own defence, with much of his testimony disputing what police have told the court.
It was the last day of testimony in his trial.
He wasn't on the stand for long, about an hour and a half, but in that time Rickett gave a much different account of the events that preceded the crash on Dec. 31, 2011.
Rickett is on trial for impaired driving causing death and nine other charges.
Rickett's truck and an SUV driven by the husband of 44-year-old Carolyn Dutta, collided at Walker and South Talbot.
Dutta died from her injuries. Four other members of her family who were in the SUV were also injured.
Earlier this week in trial, police testified that Rickett consumed four pints of beer before getting into his truck that day. But on the stand Thursday, Rickett disputes that saying he drank three pints before leaving the restaurant to drive home.
Rickett testified that he "chugged" his last beer. His defence lawyer Pat Ducharme asked “Did the alcohol you drank have any effect on you?” Rickett replied “No.”
Ducharme also asked “Did you have any reaction to the alcohol?” Rickett again replied “No.”
"Out of nowhere this vehicle came flying out right in front of me, I couldn't stop," Rickett told the court.
Rickett says he weighed 185 pounds at the time of the crash, but the police officers who did a sobriety test on Rickett testified earlier that he weighed just 146 pounds.
At the time of the accident, the speed limit near Walker and South Talbot was 80 kilometres per hour. Police investigators believe Rickett was driving 86 km/hr at the time of the collision.
Rickett told the court he was below the speed limit, possibly even as slow as 75 km/hr.
Crown attorney Lisa Defoe grilled Rickett about why he would be driving below the speed limit. Rickett testified “I'm a cautious driver.”
He said he had no reason to drive fast, testifying there's no point. “I was in no rush, why speed?”
Police testified the Dutta vehicle entered the intersection travelling at 14 km/hr.
Defoe's question to Rickett, “How can you not see a vehicle crossing through the north lane before crossing your path? I suggest you didn't take evasive action because you were drinking.”
Rickett replied that he couldn't avoid hitting the Dutta SUV, saying “I had no time to do nothing.”
Earlier in the trial, the first police officer at the scene of the accident testified that Rickett had glossy red swollen eyes.
Rickett testified Thursday that his eyes were like that because the airbag in his pickup truck deployed and the dust from the airbag was bothering his eyes after the accident occurred.
Testimony is now complete in the trial. The court will hear closing arguments on Friday before the case is handed to Justice Bruce Thomas for a decision.
Ducharme says he hopes a verdict will be reached within a week or two.