By Delon Shurtz
Alta Newspaper Group – Lethbridge
The verdict in a 2018 hit-and-run case in which a man was killed while walking on the highway south of Lethbridge has been adjourned again, but only until later this month.
Judge Paul Pharo was originally set to give his decision in May, but it was adjourned in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The matter was back in Lethbridge provincial court Thursday, but adjourned again to July 28 after Pharo was told the accused, Michael White Quills, was in Calgary being treated for lung cancer.
White Quills stood trial in January on a single charge of failing to stop at the scene of a collision causing death. He admitted striking something with his parents’ truck as he was leaving Lethbridge on Highway 5 about 4 a.m. on Sept. 2, 2018, but he testified he thought it was an animal.
The victim, 26-year-old Gage Christian Good Rider, and D.J. Long Time Squirrel, were walking down the highway after spending the day in Lethbridge drinking and consuming drugs. Long Time Squirrel’s car had broken down earlier in the day and they had decided to walk to her home on the east side of the Blood Reserve.
White Quills, who admitted drinking up to 11 cans of beer in the previous 20 hours, testified he did not see anyone on the road just before he looked down at his radio. He said he didn’t stop his vehicle after the collision because he was “fairly certain” he hit a deer. He surrendered to the police a couple of days later after learning through social media a man had been killed in the collision.
Calgary lawyer Balfour Der maintains the judge should return a not-guilty verdict, and said during his arguments the Crown failed to prove White Quills knew he had struck a person.
The Crown, however, said White Quills likely knew he had struck and killed a person or was “wilfully blind” to the possibility. She said most people would have stopped following a serious collision, and even though White Quills eventually turned himself into police, he did so only after spending the day competing in a rodeo and drinking more beer.