Shelby-Zielski Thibault has been found not guilty on all charges connected to the death of Aaron Rushlow, after an incident on Walmsley Place in west end Belleville, in October of 2016.
She had been charged with manslaughter, dangerous driving causing death, criminal negligence causing death, leaving the scene of an accident and breaching probation, but the breach charge was dropped part way through the proceedings because there was no evidence to support it.
Justice Geoff Griffin read a two-plus hour judgement on the other charges Wednesday, outlining the evidence that had been presented over the four-day trial and giving the reasons for his decision.
In those reasons, Griffin noted a lack of physical evidence in the case and said evidence that was presented supports Zielski-Thibault’s story, that Rushlow was attacking her and that she drove away in self defence.
He told court the crown had not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Griffin says all of the evidence presented suggests Rushlow was upset that evening, had waited outside a party for Zielski-Thibault to leave and ended up still driving close to her, despite witnesses saying he had been ahead of her when she got stuck at a light.
There was also evidence at the scene of him parking his car in an unusual position, in an attempt to stop Zielski-Thibault from leaving.
He noted that Rushlow’s saliva and hand prints, found on Zielski-Thibault’s vehicle, supports her story that he had been hanging on the car and spitting at her, but there was no physical evidence to confirm how Zielski-Thibeault was driving when she attempted to leave Walmsley Place and Rushlow fell off the car.
Griffin also said there was nothing in the testimony from doctors who conducted the post mortem on Rushlow, to contradict Zielski-Thibault’s version of events.
The Crown had argued Zielski-Thibault should have stopped and that her response to Rushlow’s actions were unwarranted, but Griffin told court that the way she was acting wasn’t unreasonable for an 18-year-old woman, being attacked by a 24-year-old man late at night.
Despite her acquittal, Zielski-Thibault was held in custody on separate charges and will have a bail hearing on those counts Thursday afternoon.