Richard Suter is shown in a court sketch, during his brief court appearance via CCTV on Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A preliminary hearing into the patio killing of a toddler by an alleged drunk driver began Monday with a judge's warning and a call for justice by the victim's mother.

Richard Alan Suter, 64, is accused of impaired driving causing death, two counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm and refusing to provide a breath sample in the May 19, 2013, death of two-year-old Geo Mounsef.

Police have said they believe Suter had been having an argument with his spouse when he got into a blue Acura SUV parked in front of the patio at Ric's Grill at 23 Avenue and Rabbit Hill Road just before 8 p.m.

But, instead of putting the SUV into reverse, he put it in drive, climbing over the curb, driving through the railing and pinning the toddler against the wall, said police.

The boy was rushed to hospital where he died later from his injuries. Other family members were hurt as well.

A week-long preliminary hearing is being held to determine whether there is enough evidence to warrant a trial and the Crown expects to call between 20 and 25 witnesses. There is a ban on publication of the evidence heard.

Provincial Court Judge Susan Richardson began the hearing by issuing a stern warning saying that no courtroom outbursts would be tolerated -- including heavy sighs and head shaking -- and offenders would be forcibly removed.

At a May 24, 2013, hearing where Suter was released on bail, the victim's father stood and launched a profanity-laced tirade against the accused and several others yelled out comments about the decision to grant bail.

Both of the victim's parents, Sage Morin and George Mounsef, testified at the hearing on Monday.

Outside court, Morin spoke to the media about keeping her composure while on the witness stand.

"You basically go into battle mode," said Morin. "You have to stay strong. The easiest thing in the world to do is to fall down and die, but I have to stay strong for my son."

Accompanied by her 18-month-old son Quentin, Morin said it has been a hard 14 months since the death.

"It's been full of ups and downs and I've really been just trying to focus on the positives in our lives and just really trying to give back where we can," said Morin, adding she has been keeping busy with the Justice for Geo campaign and working at a treatment centre for young girls.

"Obviously I hope that the person who killed my son is held responsible to the highest degree of the law," she said. "We believe that the victims need to be treated with dignity and need to be able to be rest assured that the people who have hurt and killed their loved ones will be prosecuted to the highest extent of the law."

Livio Fent, who is Mounsef's stepfather and the grandfather of Geo and Quentin, said things are just starting to getting back to some sense of normalcy.

"It has been very difficult," he said, adding that the family recently had a one-year memorial of the death.

He nearly broke down when asked about Geo.

"I don't have the words to express that. He was one of a kind, he was just an incredible little boy," he said. "We are just hoping that justice will be served."

Source: Edmonton Sun


Last updated on: 2014-07-22 | Link to this post