During a sentencing hearing Tuesday, members of the victim’s family expressed forgiveness. Stone, now 23, wept as she heard the impact her actions had on her late friend’s family.
Nicotine, 23, and Stone were at a gathering early in the morning of June 6, 2020. After Nicotine left with a bottle of alcohol, Stone drove drunk to Nicotine’s apartment on Appleby Drive, according to an agreed statement of facts.
Stone had her two daughters, aged four and six months old, in the vehicle. Nicotine met her outside in the apartment parking lot, and around 4:20 a.m., witnesses noticed Nicotine hitting her hands on the hood of Stone’s SUV.
As Nicotine moved to the driver’s side door, Stone accelerated and tried driving out of the lot. Nicotine was pulled under the vehicle and dragged for a short distance.
Stone and a passenger pulled Nicotine out and drove away.
When police arrested Stone at her home nearby, Stone apologized: “I didn’t mean to hit her with my car. She jumped in front. She’s my best friend. Is she okay?”
Officers described her as “cooperative, remorseful and emotional,” Crown prosecutor Cory Bliss said.
Two hours after the collision, Stone’s blood-alcohol level was recorded at double the legal limit.
On Tuesday, the judge accepted a joint-submission that saw Stone receive a three-year sentence for driving while over .08 and causing the death of another person. She received an additional six months behind bars for leaving the scene, along with a five-year driving ban upon her release from prison.
The hearing was held at the Sheraton Cavalier hotel to accommodate COVID-19 requirements for physical distancing.
As Stone was led into a van to be taken to prison, she told media, “don’t drink and drive.”
Court heard 10 victim impact statements, describing Nicotine as an inspiration to her three younger siblings. She was an educational assistant in her home community of Red Pheasant Cree Nation and she aspired to become a paramedic. She was also remembered as a leader of the gay-straight alliance at her school, which has since been renamed in her memory.
A victim impact statement from Vanessa Nicotine, Kionna’s mother, articulated the close relationship between her children,
“Together, they thought they were bulletproof and could conquer the world,” she said.
When Kionna’s mother was diagnosed with a neurological condition, she would drive her to doctor’s appointments and surgeries, while also looking out for her siblings.
“These four could a move a mountain with how much love they had for each other,” Vanessa said.
Stone wept as the mother offered her forgiveness through her statement, encouraging her to heal, so her children “will have the healthy, happy mom they deserve.”
Defence lawyer Logan Marchand told court he witnessed the mother and Stone embrace during a break. They hugged again at the conclusion of sentencing.
Bliss said the case highlights how drinking and driving should be viewed as both legally and socially unacceptable.
“People need to be thinking before they go drinking. They need to have a plan,” he told court.
Judge Sanjeev Anand told Stone to spend the rest of her life warning people about the dangers of drinking and driving. Court heard Stone had undergone a few counselling sessions to address her alcohol addiction and hadn’t had any alcohol since her friend’s death.
Anand said more needs to be done to address impaired driving, beyond the court’s limited role.
“We increase sentences and the carnage continues. We have families torn asunder and yet, the carnage continues,” he said.
The judge also called on Stone to be an advocate for policy changes to spare families similar pain in the future.