Markita Kaulius stood across the hallway with her back to the wall, purposefully aiming an eight-by-10 framed photo of her beautiful daughter Kassandra at the doorway of courtroom 102.

"I want to see her coming out," the grieving Surrey mother told her husband, Victor.

Within a minute Natasha Leigh Warren, 34, emerged, dressed in black and flanked by sheriffs. Warren glanced at Kaulius as she passed by. A man yelled out, "Hope it was worth those drinks."

Warren had just pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death, failing to remain at the scene of a crash and driving with a blood alcohol content over the legal limit causing death, in connection with the May 3, 2011 collision that killed Kassandra Marie Kaulius, 22, of Surrey. Her sentencing hearing has been set for Dec. 17 and 18.

Kaulius had been driving her BMW sedan through the intersection of 152nd Street and 64th Avenue on a green light when Warren's Ford van blew through the red and T-boned the driver's side of her car at about 100 kilometres an hour.

Kaulius died at the scene. Warren was arrested a short time later, in some nearby woods where she'd run off to hide.

Outside the Surrey provincial courthouse Friday, Warren's lawyer Mark Cacchioni said his client feels "heartfelt remorse" and has sent the Kaulius family a letter of apology.

"She has never once tried to wriggle away from anything," he said. "She wanted to plead guilty to this tragic event the very day after it happened."

Asked why she didn't, Cacchioni replied that as her lawyer he would have been negligent to advise her to plead guilty without him first reviewing all the available information.

Cacchioni said Warren is a criminology student who plans to spend the rest of her life making amends for her crimes. He said she plans to lobby Parliament to adopt a zero-tolerance policy toward impaired drivers. Asked if Warren wants that same policy applied to herself, Cacchioni replied, "She will get a stiff sentence whether she calls for it or not."

Markita Kaulius and Families for Justice are lobbying for change to Canada's drunk driving laws. They're calling for minimum five-year prison sentences for impaired drivers involved in a traffic crash. In cases where people are killed, they want the accused to be tried for vehicular manslaughter rather than impaired driving causing death.

To that end, the group collected more than 8,000 petition signatures within two months.

Kaulius was aghast when told of Warren's plans to lobby government for change. "I call B.S. on that," she said.

She doesn't know if she'll read Warren's apology letter.

"I can't forgive her," she said. "My daughter's gone.

"To me," she said, "this was a murder. I just don't understand how somebody kills somebody and runs away."

Kassandra's dad, Victor Kaulius, said an apology offered 14 months after the fact doesn't count for much.

Inside the courtroom, Markita cupped her hand over her mouth and burst into tears as Warren entered her three guilty pleas. Later, the grieving mom said she's "pleased" with those pleas, but added, "It doesn't change anything for us."

"She (Kassandra) was a really special girl," she said. "It's a loss for society."

Kassandra Kaulius was a scholarship-winning athlete who coached softball and pitched for the Surrey Storm. She also had a fiance.

"We're suffering every hour of every day," said her eldest sister, Miranda Tracy.

Several hundred mourners attended Kassandra Kaulius's funeral, with 30 Mounties dressed in red serge among them.


Source: Now Newspaper Surrey BC

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Families for Justice



Last updated on: 2012-08-17 | Link to this post