For the first time in five years, Debbie Dyer’s home is decorated for the holidays.

A huge purple wreath adorns her front door, and a Christmas tree — swathed in purple tulle, ornaments and twinkling lights — sits in the middle of her living room.

“I’ve tried doing Christmas, and …” Dyer trails off, shaking her head. “I don’t do Christmas any more.”

For Dyer, the holidays haven’t been the same since her daughter, Beckie, died. The only reason her home is decorated this year is for her roommate.

Beckie was 19 when she and her boyfriend, 21-year-old Johnny deOliveira, were killed in a car crash in Pitt Meadows on the night of Oct. 19, 2010.

Johnny’s mom, Audrey deOliveira, also struggles around this time of year. She celebrates, putting up a small tree decorated with ornaments that remind her of her son, because she has other family members to think about.

“I feel Debbie’s pain. Even though I have a grandson and a daughter, there’s still someone missing,” she said. “Family get-togethers, it’s just not the same.”

For both women, this Christmas is different than usual because they’re in the midst of the second trial for Andelina Kristina Hecimovic, who is charged in connection with the crash that killed their children.

The two-week retrial wrapped up in late November, but the judge reserved his decision until mid-January.

“The anticipation — I’m still waiting,” said deOliveira. “I just wake up, keep myself busy.”

Hecimovic was found not guilty in 2013 of two counts of dangerous driving causing death for causing the crash that killed Johnny and Beckie.

Johnny was driving on Lougheed Highway in Pitt Meadows, with Beckie in the passenger seat, when Hecimovic’s Toyota Paseo jumped the concrete median, flipped and smashed into the roof of Johnny’s vehicle.

The couple were killed on impact, according to police. Hecimovic broke her neck, but has since recovered.

Hecimovic testified at both trials that she had been driving to her boyfriend’s home after a difficult nursing shift at Eagle Ridge Hospital when the crash happened.

She said she had moved into the right lane because she thought it was an open lane — she did not notice that it was a right-turn-only lane or that she was entering an intersection on a red light because she was crying about work.

The first trial judge concluded that the Crown had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Hecimovic had the intent to drive dangerously, and decided that Hecimovic’s driving was not a marked departure from the standard of care a reasonable person would have observed.

“We were really mad,” deOliveira said. “I just thought, ‘This is ridiculous.’”

The Crown appealed the decision, alleging that the trial judge made a legal error. The appeal was heard in October 2014 and two months later, in a 2-1 decision, the B.C. Court of Appeal set aside the acquittal and ordered a new trial.

Because one judge dissented on a point of law, Hecimovic had the right to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, which she did. In November 2015, the court dismissed the appeal after a hearing.

The second trial took place in November over a two-week period.

While it was difficult to hear the details of the events that led to their children’s deaths yet again, both Dyer and deOliveira believe the second trial was more comprehensive than the first, with witnesses and information they hadn’t seen or heard before.

“It was hard,” said Dyer. “There are tears and you’re trying to keep a straight face.”

DeOliveira feels optimistic that the judge will come back in January with a judgment in their favour.

“I think that Crown did a really good job proving the case,” said deOliveira. “I feel good — I personally feel good about it.”

Dyer has her doubts about the outcome.

“We all thought it was a slam dunk last time. The bar is so high for the Crown to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” she said.

But, she still hopes to set a good precedent for future court cases.

“It does’t bring Beckie and Johnny back, but if someone else has to go through this then maybe it would be better for them, and people would think twice about doing what they do,” she said.

Whichever way it goes, Dyer and deOliveira want this trial to be their last. They’re looking forward to the day when navigating the legal system is not a daily concern.

“After this is all over, maybe I can let him go, let go a little bit,” said deOliveira.

Dyer imagines she will feel a great sense of relief when the court case is over.

“I just want this to be all over and done with. Then I could cherish the memories still,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to let go.”

Source: The Province


Last updated on: 2017-01-26 | Link to this post