Family on edge as Alexa's killer appeals conviction
Published Thursday, November 10, 2011 4:42PM PST
The mother of slain four-year-old Alexa Middelaer says she's losing sleep as the drunk driver convicted of killing her daughter appeals her conviction.
Laurel Middelaer spoke to reporters outside the B.C. Court of Appeal Thursday as lawyers for Carol Berner prepared to argue for overturning her four counts, which include impaired and dangerous driving causing death.
"It's not a great feeling," Middelaer said. "It's really hard to know that the person responsible for killing our child has formally apologized, yet is doing everything they can to not take responsibility or accountability for their actions."
Berner was sentenced to 30 months in prison last November for running down Alexa and her aunt while the pair fed a horse at the side of a country road in Delta in 2008. Alexa died at the scene; her aunt was severely injured.
Berner was released on bail the same month, a decision the Middelaer family described as a ridiculous "get-out-of-jail-free card." Berner surrendered herself to custody for the hearing -- which she did not attend -- but was released on bail again at the end of the day.
Berner's lawyer David Tarnow argued that there were several mistakes in the case against his client.
"When I became counsel for Ms. Berner, I tried to check out the car she was driving that day to see if there was any mechanical problems, and the car had been destroyed. In fact, the car had been destroyed before Ms. Berner was even charged," he told CTV News outside the court.
Crown prosecutors argued that Berner was given notice that the car was to be destroyed and chose not to take custody of it.
Tarnow also said Berner was wrongly detained immediately after the crash.
"Most Canadians would think if you're locked in the back of a police car for half an hour, you're entitled to be told why you're there and to be told that you have a right to talk to a lawyer before you speak to the police," he said.
Crown counsel said Berner was simply left in the car, not detained, while officers attended to more pressing needs at a chaotic crash scene.
Awaiting the appeal hearing has put more strain on Alexa's parents, who say they've already endured years of turmoil since their daughter's untimely passing.
"Candidly, it's hard to really get a good night's sleep ever since Alexa's death," Laurel Middelaer said.
Three judges oversaw the hearing, but have reserved their decision.
If Berner's appeal fails, she will be required to serve the rest of her sentence.
At the time of the crash, Berner was doing 91 kilometres per hour in a 50-km/h zone. During her trial, the court heard Berner tell an undercover police officer she drank three glasses of wine prior to the accident.
With files from CTV British Columbia's Michele Brunoro