Lawyers gave their final submissions to the jury Tuesday in the trial of Krista Kalmikoff, charged in a number of robberies committed in the West Kootenay in 2014 by Andrew Stevenson, who pled guilty and is now serving a 10-year jail sentence.
One of the charges against Kalmikoff is failing to stop when being pursued by police. After Stevenson robbed the Nelson and District Credit union on April 25, 2014, Kalmikoff and Stevenson led police on a 24-kilometre chase from the Real Canadian Superstore parking lot on Lakeside Drive through Nelson to a bridge at the Kootenay Canal where Stevenson got out of the car, threw the stolen money and a sawed-off shotgun off the bridge and then jumped off, injuring himself. Police then arrested both Stevenson and Kalmikoff who was in the driver’s seat of the car.
Defence lawyer Blair Suffredine told the jury that Stevenson was in control of the car, not Kalmikoff.
He pointed to Kalmikoff’s testimony that she had been waiting in the car in the parking lot for Stevenson while, unbeknownst to her, he robbed the credit union. When Stevenson returned to the car she drove out of the parking lot but in the vicinity of Maglio Building Supplies she tried to brake. He pushed her foot off the brake and then pushed her over against the driver door and took over the driving, putting him, not her, in control of the car.
Suffredine noted that in one of several photos taken of the getaway car by the police from behind during the chase, Stevenson’s hand is seen on the steering wheel.
But Crown counsel Sunday Patola pointed out that in the photos, one person is in the driver seat and one in the passenger seat, and Kalmikoff was in the driver’s seat when the car stopped at the Kootenay Canal bridge. She asked the jury to consider the difficulty of driving while not actually in the driver’s seat at high speed on a winding road. “It may be true that his hand is on the steering wheel in the photo but so is hers,” she said.
What did she know?
Kalmikoff is also charged with robbery using a prohibited weapon (a sawed-off shotgun) at the Kootenay Currency Exchange and the credit union, specifically that she was the driver of the getaway car in both cases. Suffredine said Kalmikoff’s evidence in court was that she did not know Stevenson was committing robberies, that she was simply waiting for him, and that Stevenson’s testimony corroborated this. Suffredine told the jury the onus is on the crown to prove that she knew.
Patola pointed to Kalmikoff’s testimony that after the robbery of the Kootenay Currency Exchange, she and Stevenson decided she would be the driver on the way home because police would not suspect a female driver. Patola alleged there were a number of inconsistencies between Kalmikoff’s statement to the police after the robbery and her testimony in court, suggesting that in court she pleaded more ignorance than she had to police, and in fact had lied to the police.
Patola also argued Kalmikoff must have known Stevenson was committing robberies because of her testimony that there was a sudden influx of groceries and gifts into the house during that period.
The sawed-off shotgun
The robberies of the currency exchange and credit union were carried out with a sawed-off shotgun, and Kalmikoff is charged with being in a vehicle with a prohibited weapon. Court testimony revealed Stevenson carried the gun concealed in a bag, and Kalmikoff testified that in both cases she did not know the gun was in the car.
Suffredine said the crown must prove she did know that it was in the car, but added there is no evidence she did. He said her testimony shows that when Stevenson threw the gun off the bridge it was the first time she had seen it since two instances in their home weeks before when she asked Stevenson to get rid of the gun and he agreed he would.
But Patola pointed to Kalmikoff’s testimony that the first time she saw the shotgun in a closet in their home and asked Stevenson to get rid of it, she didn’t whether or not he did, and did not follow up to see if he’d done so. When she found it again in a shed on the property, and he agreed again to get rid of it, she again failed to follow up.
“This does not make sense in a home with three young children,” Patola said. She noted Kalmikoff testified that by the time she saw the shotgun a second time she was suspicious Stevenson was the bank robber, and by then the shotgun had been reported in the news.
Kalmikoff is also charged with possessing stolen property because pills Stevenson stole to feed his addiction to morphine were kept in their house. Suffredine argued there is no evidence that she knew the pills were stolen because of Kalmikoff’s testimony that even though on the occasion of Stevenson’s break-ins at two Castlegar pharmacies while she waited in the car, he didn’t tell her what he‘d been doing or what was in the box he brought back to the car.
Patola alleged there are inconsistencies between Kalmikoff’s statement to police and her court testimony regarding pills stolen in Castlegar, and argued Kalmikoff knew there were pills in the box.
Kalmikoff’s testified that pills were kept in a cooler in the house but she didn’t know about them until Stevenson’s seven-year-old daughter found them and asked her about them, after which Kalmikoff confronted Stevenson but didn’t actually look in the cooler.
“She did not go to look for herself because she knew what was in it,” Patola said. “In a house with small children the thing would be to go and check. She knew it was stolen property.”
Suffredine said there is no evidence she knew the pills were stolen, even though Kalmikoff did know about Stevenson’s addiction and his daily activity of buying and selling pills.
Throughout the summations, Suffredine portrayed Kalmikoff as a unwitting victim and a timid and fearful person averse to risk-taking, for whom it was out of character to be involved in robberies or high speed chases. Patola said Kalmikoff is “more savvy than she wants you to know,” and that while Stevenson’s mind may have been muddled by morphine, “hers was not. She was going along with it.”
Justice Mark McEwan will give his instructions to the jury on Friday morning.