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Canada Cannabis News: Circumstances of drug use admission focus at trial for THC-impaired driving causing death

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Taylor Kennedy told a Saskatoon police officer that she had microdosed psilocybin mushrooms and vaped cannabis to combat anxiety in the previous 24 hours before fatally hitting nine-year-old Baeleigh Maurice with her truck.

Kennedy made the disclosure to Const. Shelby McLean when the officer was talking to her in the first hour after the crash. 

McLean testified Wednesday in Saskatoon provincial court, where Kennedy is on trial for impaired driving causing death.

McLean said she told Kennedy that Kennedy would have to make a statement about the accident, likely including where she was coming from and where she was going to prior to the collision — and what she had done the day before.

camera view of street
The stretch of 33rd Street moments before the collision that killed Baeleigh Maurice. (Loddy Toddy/Facebook)

“At no point do you ask yourself, ‘Has she been told she’s detained? Has she been allowed to talk to a lawyer?’ … It didn’t cross your mind?” defence lawyer Thomas Hynes asked.

“I was more focused on the fact that she was extremely upset,” McLean replied.

At this point, Kennedy had also not been advised that anything she said could be used against her.

Given these factors, Judge Jane Wootten must decide whether to admit Kennedy’s statements as evidence in the judge-alone trial.

Baeleigh Maurice died Sept. 9, 2021. Kennedy was charged with THC-impaired driving causing death in March 2022.

Three officers have testified, each describing a chaotic, rapidly evolving accident scene.

Maurice was hit by Kennedy’s truck around 9 a.m. CST, not far from her home on 33rd Street West. Officers testified how a crowd of family and neighbours quickly gathered around the dying girl.

They were yelling death threats at Kennedy, who at first sat near her truck and then inside a police SUV.

A memorial with the name "Baeleigh" and many flowers
Flowers were placed at the scene where nine-year-old Baeleigh Maurice died. (Trevor Bothorel/CBC)

McLean testified that Kennedy was almost incoherently distraught. She was shaking, crying, unsteady on her feet and vomiting.

After Kennedy told McLean about her medical conditions — which included past self-harm episodes — McLean informed her supervisors on scene. More than an hour elapsed between the crash and when police did the oral swab for THC (Kennedy failed), which led to the demand for a blood sample.

Traffic Sgt. Joe Tataryn also testified.

He said that, until learning about Kennedy’s drug admission, he did not believe there had been either a criminal code or traffic safety act offence. He believed that a truck and trailer parked near the crosswalk may have played a part in the accident.

The trial continues Thursday.

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