The woman facing manslaughter and other charges, in the October 23, 2016 death of Aaron Rushlow, told police that what happened was just an unfortunate accident and has pleaded not guilty to all of those charges.
They also include, criminal negligence causing death, dangerous driving causing death, leaving the scene of a crash and breach of probation.
Among evidence presented at day one of Shelby Zielski-Thibault’s trial was a video recording of her interview with Belleville Police Constable Brad Stitt, the afternoon following the incident, that killed the 24-year-old.
The now 19-year-old, who was 18 at the time of her arrest, told Stitt that Rushlow had followed her home from a friend’s house in Trenton the night of October 22 and confronted her on Walmsley Place just after midnight on October 23.
She says he parked his BMW in the cul-de-sac of the street and confronted her at the window of her Chevy Equinox, upset about her ongoing relationship with another friend.
She told Stitt Rushlow punched her multiple times, pulled out her hair extensions, spit at her and threatened to kill her.
Stitt says there was “snot” found on the car and a forensics investigation of the vehicle confirmed that.
Zielski-Thibault did admit to driving away while Rushlow hung on to the vehicle and says she heard him fall off and saw him laying on the roadway, but didn’t stop to help him because she was afraid he may attack her again.
Crown Attorney Adam Zegouras told court he intends to prove there is no legal justification for what happened.
A second video interview was shown, with investigating officer Detective Constable Jill McAuley, about a month after the incident, who suggested Zielski-Thibault hadn’t told the whole story, or had mislead Constable Stitt during her initial questioning.
Zielski-Thibault had a tendency to cover her mouth during that video and didn’t seem as forthcoming with information as she did in her first interview.
Among the experts Zegouras called to the stand Monday was Forensic Pathologist Dr. Charis Kepron, who performed the autopsy on Rushlow and commented on the severity of the injuries he sustained.
Dr. Kepron explained a number of photos she took during her examination, documenting the injuries which included a fractured skull, brain bruising, multiple broken ribs, a broken ankle and various cuts and scrapes, that could be be consistent with someone being dragged over pavement.
During cross examination from defence lawyer Mike Pretsell, Kepron did admit that there was nothing in her report to counter the theory that Rushlow was assaulting Zielski-Thibault before she drove away, also noting that there was no alcohol in Rushlow’s system, but levels of THC were detected.
Court also heard in person from Constable Stitt, who is a traffic reconstruction expert and said from his observations of the scene, all he could tell was that there had been an “interaction” between Rushlow and a vehicle causing his death, but couldn’t say exactly how it happened.
He says Rushlow’s car was found running with the headlights on, but there was no indication of where Zielski-Thibault’s vehicle and been parked, since there were no tire marks on the road.
He did note a pool of blood at the scene, about 23 metres from where Rushlow’s car was parked and a pair of shoes and a single sock in between.
The judge-only trial is scheduled to run through this Thursday and continue on Monday, in front of Justice Geoffrey Griffin, with more civilian and expert witnesses expected to testify.
About six witnesses are expected to come to the stand on Tuesday, as the trial continues at the Quinte Courthouse.