Saskatoon provincial court was the site of a long-awaited appearance Tuesday afternoon as the woman accused of killing a 9-year-old girl is facing a potentially precedent-setting charge.
The courtroom was full of supporters from Baeleigh Maurice’s family — but the one person who was not present — was the accused. Taylor Ashley Kennedy appeared by phone instead, confirming she has spoken with a legal aid lawyer.
Rochelle Dubois, Baeleigh’s mother, left the court house alongside family and supporters after the brief hearing.
Many from the family could be seen embracing one another following the court appearance. The family has been waiting for this court date for seven months now.
Nine-year-old Baeleigh was hit by a pickup truck on Sept. 9, 2021, on 33rd Street West while riding her scooter on a marked crosswalk. She was later pronounced dead in hospital.
Kennedy, who is 28 years old, was charged with impaired operation while exceeding the prescribed blood-drug concentration of THC causing death.
THC, which stands for tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main psychoactive compound found in cannabis that causes the user to feel high.
Her family released a widely circulated video on social media, showing the moment of impact between the vehicle and the girl.
Baeleigh’s death prompted calls for justice from the girl’s family and their supporters, including rallies outside the Saskatoon Police Service headquarters and Saskatoon City Hall in January.
Six months after the collision, police charged Kennedy on March 11. She was released from custody on a promise to appear in court on April 12.
Since new cannabis legislation was enacted in 2019, the impaired driving causing death charge against Kennedy is the first of its kind to be laid in Saskatchewan, according to a statement from a provincial government spokesperson.
Legal experts say the case could be precedent setting.
Cannabis-impaired driving can result in licence suspensions, vehicle seizures, fines and jail time.
In court, Judge Brent Klause had a quick discussion with Kennedy confirming she will be meeting with her lawyer before her next court appearance.
Kennedy is scheduled to appear in court on April, 26.
As the case proceeds through the court system, Saskatoon’s Board of Police Commissioners, Chief Troy Cooper said police will continue to communicate with Baeleigh’s family and offer victim services support.
— with files from Global News’ Ryan Kessler