A dramatic development in the trial of bar server Ann Senack resulted in an abrupt end to yesterday’s hearing following Assistant Crown Attorney Richard Morris asking Judge Hugh Fraser to give the Crown time to consider its position. Senack is facing two charges of criminal negligence causing death and two charges of criminal negligence causing bodily harm because of her alleged role in the fatal crash involving four Renfrew Timberwolves players on October 28 2017.
Morris’ request occurred during the cross-examination of Ben Scheuneman, one of the two survivors, by defence counsel Tony Paciocco. He had just taken Scheuneman through the last few seconds leading up to the crash on Calabogie Road. He did so using diagrams, each depicting one-second intervals for the seven seconds immediately prior to the crash. Using cell phone data extracted from the phones of some of the occupants of the car including Scheuneman himself, and matching that data to GPS coordinates, Paciocco plotted cell phone usage at various times along the route. He claimed that these showed that some occupants of the car were messaging each other during the journey. He said the last message was a Snapchat sent at 11:59:52 p.m. to Brandon Hanniman’s phone. Hanniman was driving at the time and did not survive.
In testimony earlier in the week the other survivor, Jacob McGrimmon who was in the front passenger seat, told the Court that moments before the crash Hanniman had shown him his cell phone. He said that he believed that this caused Hanniman to lose control and swerve onto the shoulder, and that the crash occurred after the driver tried to correct. The defence has suggested to the Court that distracted driving may have caused or contributed to the driver losing control of the vehicle. The Court has also been told that reconstruction of the accident revealed that the vehicle was travelling at 127km/hr immediately before the collision.
After being shown the last of the diagrams, Scheuneman agreed with Paciocco that Hanniman had received at 11:59:52 p.m. an incoming device notification and that it was something that he got “just a moment before the accident scene.” At this point Paciocco asked that Scheuneman be excluded from the hearing so that he could address the Judge in the witness’ absence, referring to what he described as a “very complicated and touchy area.”
Following defence submissions, Morris responded by asking the Judge to conclude the day’s proceedings early, saying, “It changes the fabric of the case from the perspective of the Crown and I want to think it through properly rather than make an off-the-cuff decision.” No objection was voiced by Paciocco and Justice Fraser agreed to Morris’ request, and the trial was therefore adjourned to May 10.
Editor’s Note: The first version of this article said the crash occurred on Oct.17 2017. On May 2 this was corrected to Oct.28 2017. We apologize for any confusion caused by this error.