The fate of a woman found guilty on two charges in a deadly hit-and-run will be determined in February.
© Herald photo by Matt Gardner
Surrounded by supporters, Danielle Chamakese (wearing purple coat, hidden behind blanket) exits the Court of Queen’s Bench on Wednesday. Judge R.S. Smith will determine Chamakese’s sentence for her role in a fatal hit-and-run on Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 1 p.m.
Crown prosecutor Cam Scott and defense attorney Greg Chovin each presented their arguments for sentencing on Wednesday at the Prince Albert Court of Queen’s Bench in the case of Pelican Lake resident Danielle Chamakese.
Chamakese, 22, was previously found guilty of dangerous operation of a vehicle causing death and failure to remain at the scene of an accident in relation to a 2010 incident outside Stavros Lounge that claimed the life of 21-year-old Prince Albert resident Daniel Carter.
Judge R.S. Smith will make his final decision on Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 1 p.m.
He plans to use the time between December and February in part to put his decision in writing. All bail conditions set for Chamakese will continue to apply in the meantime.
Family members of Daniel Carter were dismayed by the judge’s decision to delay sentencing into the new year.
“I guess we were rather disgusted the way it ended up turning out today,” stepfather Robert Burns said.
“This is supposed to be the final day where we knew what was going to happen, and now we have to wait another number of months … That’ll be three and a half years since this happened and we’re not sure if there ever is a conclusion to these stories.”
Yet he and Carter’s mother Karen Anthony-Burns were resigned to the legal process.
“I guess we have no choice,” Burns said. “That’s what the courts have decided, so that’s what we’ll have to abide by.”
The length and nature of Chamakese’s prison sentence were the primary subjects of debate between the two attorneys on Wednesday.
While Scott argued for a 30-month period of incarceration followed by three years of probation during which Chamakese would be prohibited from driving, Chovin believed that a two-year period of incarceration was reasonable.
Pointing to the need for punishment to serve as both denunciation and deterrence, Scott described several aggravating factors in Chamakese’s case.
They included alcohol consumption on the night of the incident, leaving the scene, video of her car bumping into another vehicle in the Stavros parking lot, witnesses who observed Chamakese carrying a cellphone and the fact that she did not have a valid driver’s license at the time due to a suspension after two previous accidents.
While agreeing on the need to denounce and deter the crime, Chovin also brought up the importance of rehabilitation.
He stated that his client would benefit from counselling and pushed for a recommendation from the court to place Chamakese in the Willow Cree Healing Lodge for the duration of her prison sentence.
Describing various mitigating factors, Chovin painted a portrait of Chamakese on the night of the incident as a “scared young lady” who left the bar due to her fear of being attacked there.
While he acknowledged her poor driving record, he argued that she came from a good background, was a noted competitive athlete and had a bright future ahead of her up until the incident.
I’m sorry for causing anybody so much pain. I didn’t mean for any of this to happen. Danielle Chamakese
He urged the judge to take Chamakese’s eight-month-old baby into consideration.
Finally, he noted his client’s strong sense of remorse over the tragedy.
“There are no winners here,” Chovin said.
In an emotional statement to the court, Chamakese tearfully and repeatedly apologized to Carter’s family members.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m sorry for causing anybody so much pain. I didn’t mean for any of this to happen.”
But the victim’s parents remained largely unmoved.
“It’s about three years too late,” Burns said of Chamakese’s apology.
“I wish that we could have said something because as far as I’m concerned, our whole family has served a 38-month sentence already and we’ve been suffering,” his wife said as she wiped away tears.
“Life is not easy for us either,” she added. “Every day you have to get up and make yourself keep going. So I mean, yes, I heard what she said -- but I’ll tell you, the family feels the same way.”
The approach of Christmas has made the young man’s absence all the more noticeable for his still-grieving family.
As she has throughout the trial, Anthony-Burns carried a photograph of her son to the courthouse that day.
“I just feel that it keeps Daniel close to my heart -- keeps him there closer,” she said.
“I just like to focus on him.”