Four years ago, Emma Czornobaj stopped her car on the side of a Canadian highway as she sought to help a group of wayward ducklings.
Her actions wound up costing a father and his daughter their lives.
In the ensuing court case, Czornobaj wagered that a jury would be understanding. As she found out Friday, that didn’t happen.
Two months before the jury trial began, [Czornobaj’s lawyer Marc] Labelle stated in open court that his client was willing to plead guilty to at least some of the four charges but a plea bargain was not possible because the Crown wanted her to serve jail time. Czornobaj took her chances with a jury and the gamble did not pay off.
“She is in shock. What do you expect? Already, to have caused the deaths of two people, you know, it’s really something. And the verdict just confirmed that it was criminal. She’s pretty emotional right now,” Labelle said.
The verdict: The 25-year-old Czornobaj was found guilty of two counts of criminal negligence causing death, a charge that carries a maximum life sentence, and two counts of dangerous driving causing death.
She has a few months until she finds out what her sentence will actually be.
The verdict saddles Czornobaj with the blame for the deaths of Andre Roy, 50, and his daughter Jessie, 16.
Roy’s motorcycle slammed into Czornobaj’s Honda Civic after she parked on the side of a provincial highway near Montreal in 2010; Czornobaj said she had spotted a group of ducklings without their mother and was trying to capture and rescue them.
Prosecutor Annie-Claude Chasse did not reveal whether she would pursue a life sentence for Czornobaj, but she did say she hopes the verdict serves as a warning to others, the Associated Press reported.
“What we hope is that a clear message is sent to society that we do not stop on the highway for animals,” Chasse said. “It’s not worth it.”
Czornobaj was released until her pre-sentence hearing on Aug. 8.
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