An Edmonton man accused of driving into a restaurant patio and killing a toddler while impaired took responsibility for one of the five charges he was facing Friday.

Richard Suter, 64, pleaded guilty to refusing to provide a breath sample where death ensued, in connection with the tragic May 19, 2013, death of two-year-old Geo Mounsef at Ric's Grill at 23 Avenue and Rabbit Hill Road.

After the brief guilty plea, both the parents of the two-year-old victim and Suter and his weeping wife did separate emotional press conferences outside the courthouse.

"It's been a long two years trying to heal from the irreparable damage that was done to our family," said Sage Morin, the mother of Geo. "To have the truth so blatantly denied was the ultimate insult to injury. It may be too little too late, but we are headed in the right direction."

George Mounsef spoke of the pleadout meaning that Suter had admitted to being drunk at the time, however Suter's lawyer later denied that completely and said Suter will explain what happened at his sentencing in October.

"This man ran over our entire family while we were having supper on a patio. He killed my son," said Mounsef. "Today Geo is smiling upon us all because we have taken the first step towards achieving justice for Geo."

Defence lawyer Dino Bottos spoke to the media with Suter and his wife Gayska standing behind him. The couple did not speak, although Suter's wife began crying when Bottos spoke of the emotional toll stemming from the patio death and subsequent abduction and beating of Suter that resulted in his thumb being chopped off.

"They live in perpetual fear now," he said. "Through misinformation and exaggeration, this city has been poisoned against Mr. Suter and he has suffered a great deal of harm and his family have suffered a great deal of harm."

Bottos said the Crown has acknowledged that Suter was "not impaired" when he "pressed the wrong pedal and crashed into the patio of Ric's Grill on May 19 and he caused the death of Geo Mounsef, aged two.

"We wish to make it clear that Mr. Suter is terribly sorry for the events of that night," said Bottos, calling it a "terrible mistake," not a "drunken mistake" and adding Suter will tell "his side of the story" at a five-day sentencing hearing scheduled to begin on Oct. 19.

Crown prosecutor Neil Wiberg read out in court some "bare-bone facts" to support the guilty plea and told the judge an agreed statement of facts will be provided later.

Wiberg told court that, as Suter entered a parking stall at Ric's Grill, the vehicle accelerated and drove through a plate-glass window enclosing the patio. It then hit a table, injuring three people and killing Geo.

Witnesses told police they saw Suter displaying signs of impairment and, after officers noted a smell of alcohol on his breath, a demand for a breath sample was made, said Wiberg, adding that Suter refused to provide a sample after speaking to a lawyer at a nearby police station.

The other charges against Suter; impaired driving causing death and three counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm, are expected to be withdrawn at sentencing.

The maximum sentence for the charge Suter pleaded guilty to is 14 years.

Meanwhile, police have arrested a man in connection with the alleged Jan. 22 attack against Suter. Steven Vollrath, 32, is charged with kidnapping, aggravated assault, possession of a weapon and impersonating a peace officer. He is slated to be in court on June 16.

Source: Edmonton Sun


Last updated on: 2015-10-30 | Link to this post