Accused Kootenay bank robbery accomplice denies involvement

The jury trial of Krista Kalmikoff will continue next week.

Krista Kalmikoff's jury trial will continue into next week.

Accused bank robber Krista Kalmikoff, 26, testified in Nelson Supreme Court this week that she wasn’t complicit in a number of local robberies committed by Andrew Stevenson and that she didn’t know he committed them.

Kalmikoff is charged with using a prohibited or restricted weapon to commit a criminal offence, knowingly occupying a vehicle in which there is a prohibited firearm, knowingly possessing property obtained from a criminal offence, and failing to stop a vehicle while being pursued by police.

The charges stem from a series of robberies in the spring of 2014 to which Stevenson pled guilty earlier this year. He is currently serving a 10-year jail sentence.

Stevenson and Kalmikoff were arrested on April 25, 2014, following a high-speed police chase after Stevenson robbed the Nelson and District Credit Union.

Kalmikoff pled not guilty to all charges on the premise that in the instances she was his getaway driver she didn’t know he had just committed a robbery. Stevenson and Kalmikoff were living together before and throughout the period of the robberies.

In court on Wednesday before a jury, prosecutor Sunday Patola’s cross examination attempted to show Kalmikoff must have been aware of Stevenson’s activities and that in the two last robberies Kootenay Currency Exchange and Nelson and District Credit Union she knowingly helped him escape.

When the police chased Kalmikoff and Stevenson from Nelson to their arrest at the Kootenay Canal, Kalmikoff was the driver.

Discussing the relationship between Stevenson and Kalmikoff during the two years leading up to their arrest, Patola probed why Kalmikoff wasn’t aware Stevenson was buying and selling pills and carrying out robberies. The two were living together with three young children two of them his, one hers first in Salmo and then in Slocan, both of them on disability, he for rheumatoid arthritis and addiction to morphine, she on medication for anxiety and depression.

Kalmikoff’s answers to Patola painted a picture of a relationship with many secrets, all of them held by Stevenson.

Kalmikoff described how she would often drive Stevenson to specific locations, wait for him while he went somewhere, and then drive home again. When she asked what he was up to, he would tell her it was none of her business.

No one ever visited their home because “he did not want people around the house,” she said. Kalmikoff’s mother, Laura Kalmikoff, testified that although Krista and her young son sometimes visited her at her home in Salmo, she was unable to visit them because she did not know their address.

“I felt he was isolating her from the family,” her mother said.

Kalmikoff said that although Stevenson sometimes talked about being with his buddies, she didn’t know them and none ever came to the house.

During the months before their arrest, Stevenson began bringing home more groceries than they needed, and giving Kalmikoff money. If she asked where it came from, he would say he was working, but would not say at what job.

Kalmikoff said she would often wake up in the night and find him gone, with no explanation later. She said she worried he was cheating on her but was afraid to confront him about it because she did not have proof and did not like to create conflict with him.

Kalmikoff described how she found a sawed-off shotgun in the closet and asked Stevenson to get rid of it, and he agreed. She assumed he had done that, she said. But when asked by Patola if she had checked to see if it was gone or asked Stevenson where he had sold it or how much he was paid for it, she said she had not. Later she found the same gun in a shed and confronted him about it, and he agreed again to get rid of it. The weapon used in the robberies was a sawed-off shotgun.

One day Stevenson’s young daughter came to her in their Slocan house and asked why there was “a bunch of medicine in the cooler.” The cooler, Kalmikoff told the court, had been in the kitchen and empty for a while. She said that rather than inspect the cooler she went to Stevenson who was in the bathroom, confronted him about it, and was told that it was none of her business that that he would get rid of it.

Kalmikoff said she began to get suspicious that Stevenson was the robber around the time of robberies of credit unions in Castlegar and Salmo.

“Did you confront him with your suspicions?” Patala asked.

“No, because I did not like to get in conflict with him,” Kalmikoff replied.

“Didn’t you think living with him was risky?”

“Yes, but I did not know how to get out of the situation.”

Patola asked if she could have gone and lived with her mother or her grandmother, and Kalmikoff agreed she could have.

Patola challenged Kalmikoff’s assertion that despite waiting with the car in the Superstore parking lot while he robbed the Nelson and District Credit Union, and despite seeing him running back to her at the car with a bag, she did not suspect that he had just committed a robbery.

“When he got into the car, running, you knew he had a gun and money,” Patola said.

“No,” Kalmikoff replied.

Asked why she then drove their car at high-speed through Nelson chased by the police, Kalmikoff said she did it because she was “panicked and overwhelmed.”

Asked why she told the arresting officer she did not know Stevenson, Kalmikoff agreed with the prosecutor that she was trying to save herself.

Kalmikoff read aloud in court an apology letter she has since written to her family. In it she wrote that she is “disgusted with herself” and “sorry and ashamed I hope one day you can forgive me.”

The trial continues on Monday, when Stevenson will take the stand in Kalmikoff’s defence.