Crown calls Robert Major ‘author of this true crime story’, defence blames sign

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Crown calls Robert Major ‘author of this true crime story’, defence blames sign
A Saskatchewan man accused of causing the deaths of his girlfriend and two of his sons will soon learn his fate. A Saskatoon jury heard closing arguments Wednesday in the trial of Robert Major. – Jan 23, 2019

Robert Major’s defence lawyers argue a downed stop sign caused the crash that killed his girlfriend and two of his sons, while the Crown states Major is solely to blame.

After six days of testimony, lawyers made closing arguments in the trial of the Langham, Sask.-area man whose Dodge Ram collided with a semi-truck on Highway 16 nearly three years ago.

READ MORE: Stop sign would have prevented Robert Major’s triple-fatal crash: expert

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According to black box data pulled from Major’s pickup, the vehicle was doing 137 km/h five seconds before the triple-fatal crash. The speed limit on the grid road is 80 km/h.

Major faces three counts each of dangerous driving causing death, dangerous driving causing bodily harm, criminal negligence causing death, and criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

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The defence stated jurors have the option to convict Major of a single count – a lesser charge – of dangerous driving.

Robert Major is faces 12 charges, including dangerous driving causing death and criminal negligence causing death.
Robert Major is faces 12 charges, including dangerous driving causing death and criminal negligence causing death. Devin Sauer / Global News

Court heard a stop sign was knocked down at Range Road 3083 and Highway 16 before the Feb. 22, 2016 crash.

According to the defence, the downed sign led to the deaths of Major’s girlfriend, 26-year-old Kimberly Oliverio, and two of his sons: Brenden Major, 4, and Theodore Cardinal, 9.

During trial, a collision reconstruction expert contracted by the defence said Major identified the stop sign at the end of the grid road during a simulation.

READ MORE: Robert Major says he looked for a stop sign before his girlfriend and sons died

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From 2,300 feet, Major was able to see the sign, according to Malcolm Gibson, a retired Saskatoon police officer.

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Video played in court shows fluorescent signs lighting up at the end of the grid road, including the stop sign reinstalled after the crash.

“It’s like it’s neon,” Brayford said of the stop sign’s reflective coating.

For a dangerous driving conviction, the jury must determine Major’s behaviour was “a marked departure” from how a reasonable person would drive. Criminal negligence is assigned to a person who shows wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of others.

WATCH BELOW: Collision reconstruction expert replicates Robert Major’s path

Click to play video: 'Collision reconstruction expert replicates Robert Major’s path'
Collision reconstruction expert replicates Robert Major’s path

Brayford also stated a person can violate a traffic act without doing something criminal.

“The reality is, almost every driver, almost every day, is speeding,” Brayford said, adding doing 100 kilometres in an 80 km/h zone may not be a “marked departure.”

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Court also never heard expert analysis of the black box data from Major’s truck, which was “not very helpful,” Brayford said.

The defence criticized testimony from Major’s nephew – one of three passengers to survive the crash – who testified to seeing Major holding his phone prior to the collision.

In a police interview weeks after the 2016 crash, the nephew told police he didn’t see the driver distracted by anything in the vehicle.

Testifying in his own defence, Major denied using his phone during the trip.

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In his closing address, Crown prosecutor Michael Pilon argued the cell phone was one of several factors contributing to the deaths.

“The evidence is clear that he was not paying attention,” Pilon said.

Though the stop sign was missing in February 2016, Pilon pointed to the other four fluorescent signs as indicators Highway 16 was ahead.

Rather than driving 57 kilometres above the speed limit, Pilon said Major should have adjusted his driving to the foggy and icy conditions he described in court.

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Pilon said Major chose to speed in the dark on a slippery road, while overloaded with seven people in his vehicle – none of whom were wearing seat belts. His four-year-old son was not riding in a car seat.

Kimberly Oliverio, 26, Theodore Cardinal, 9, and Brenden Major, 4, died in a crash on Highway 16 on Feb. 22, 2016. Facebook

Major also testified to driving the route toward the intersection about ten times before the crash occurred.

According to the Crown, Major knew the area well enough to teach it to Oliverio, as the driver described in his testimony.

“He is the author of this true crime story,” Pilon concluded.

Justice Mona Dovell is scheduled to instruct the jury Thursday morning before they are tasked with determining Major’s fate.

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