Judge grants admission of evidence in voir dire

  • Jun. 11, 2014 3:03 p.m.

Justice Kirk Sisson ruled that evidence given in the voir dire during the trial of Rodney Arens will be admitted to the trial proper.

The voir dire evidence was presented over several days and included testimony from a number of police officers in the case.

A voir dire, also known as a trial within a trial, is held to determine the admissibility of evidence.

Arens, 36, of Red Deer, is charged with impaired driving causing death, impaired driving causing bodily harm, dangerous driving causing death, dangerous driving causing bodily harm and breach of recognizance. He has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.

Arens has also been charged with three counts of refusing to provide a breathalyzer sample. Last month, the crown issued a stay of proceedings in regards to those three charges.

In 2010, police said Anouluck ‘Jeffrey’ Chanminaraj, 13, was riding in a Honda Civic with his then 18-year-old brother Jamie and 20-year-old sister Stephanie, who was driving, at about 11 p.m. on Canada Day when a Dodge Ram pick-up truck crashed into the passenger side of the car.

Their car was turning left through the intersection of Taylor Dr. and Kerry Wood Dr. when it was allegedly struck by the pick-up truck. The siblings were on their way to see the Canada Day fireworks.

Jeffrey was pronounced dead at the scene.

During the voir dire, the court heard from Jean-Francois Tremblay, who currently works in Ottawa for the RCMP and was a peace officer employed by the RCMP at the time of the collision. He had been on the job for five months at the time.

Tremblay testified that he believed Arens was intoxicated by alcohol after a brief interaction although he never smelled alcohol on Arens.

“It was so obvious,” Tremblay said in regards to how he could tell Arens was intoxicated, citing his experience for a number of years involving intoxicated people.

Tremblay was the officer who placed Arens under arrest. Arens was released from custody the following day on July 2, 2010 in the early evening.

On July 8, 2010, Tremblay had a second interaction with Arens after Arens called the detachment to retrieve some tools from his truck which had been seized after the collision.

Tremblay testified that Arens, “Appeared totally normal. He didn’t have slurred speech or watery or shiny eyes. He was like a regular person with no intoxication.”

Donna Derie-Gillespie, defense lawyer for Arens argued his arrest was made without reasonable and probable grounds and that his arrest violated his charter rights. She also said that the more than 10-minute video showing Arens being processed at the police detachment should not be admitted as evidence either.

She argued that Arens was detained unlawfully and for a long period of time.

Sisson said in weighing his decision regarding whether or not to admit the evidence presented in the voir dire he took in a number of factors including the impact of the breach of Arens’ charter of rights as well as society’s interest in the case.

He said that while Tremblay may have made some mistakes in the arrest of Arens, he believed his actions were not done with any wrong intent. Sisson said simply, Tremblay was just inexperienced at the time and has since changed his practice as a result of this investigation.

Sisson added the video evidence that was given during the voir dire was also reliable and that it is the most accurate evidence of the state Arens was in at the time.

Meanwhile, Derie-Gillespie was expected to present the defense evidence during proceedings yesterday afternoon where a number of witnesses were scheduled to take the stand.

The crown also wrapped up its case with one remaining witness yesterday morning as well.

Closing arguments in the case were expected to begin today.