National News

Verdicted expected in drunk driving case

By The Canadian Press

WETASKIWIN, Alta. - An Alberta judge is expected to rule today in the case of a man accused in a drunk driving crash that killed three young men.

Jonathan Pratt, who is 30, has pleaded not guilty to several counts of manslaughter, impaired driving causing death and driving over .08 causing death.

His defence lawyer has argued that Pratt wasn't behind the wheel.

Court has heard that Pratt's pickup truck was going nearly 200 km/h when it crashed into a car southeast of Edmonton in November 2011.

Bradley Arsenault and Kole Novak, both 18, and Thaddeus Lake, 22, were inside the car and died.

The trial heard that Pratt was the only other person found at the scene and had a blood alcohol level of about three times the legal limit.

Arsenault's mother, Sheri Arsenault, said it's been difficult sitting throughout the three-week trial in Wetaskiwin.

"Now the ball is in the judge's hands and that's all we ever wanted."

She has met twice with federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay to discuss possible changes to Canada's impaired driving legislation.

Arsenault is a spokesperson for a group called Families for Justice, which is collecting names on a petition to create a mandatory minimum sentence of five years for convictions of impaired driving causing death. The petition also calls for the Criminal Code to redefine the offence as vehicular manslaughter.

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