Man accused of hit-and-run killing of Ukrainian girl pleads guilty

Through a Spanish interpreter, Juan Manuel Becerra García offered his “most sincere apologies” to the victim’s mother.

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The man accused of failing to stop at the scene of a collision that killed a seven-year-old Ukrainian girl as she crossed a street in Montreal more than a year ago pleaded guilty to a Criminal Code offense Thursday afternoon.

Juan Manuel Becerra García, 46, appeared before Quebec Court Judge Pierre Labelle in the Montreal courtroom, where he pleaded guilty after his lawyer, Éric Coulombe, read the charge aloud in the courtroom. court. Becerra García admitted that his Jeep Cherokee collided with Maria Legenkovska, he knew the collision could have caused fatal injuries and that he did not stop and offer assistance.

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Through a Spanish interpreter, he offered his “sincere apologies” to the victim’s mother, Galyna Legenkovska, who was present in the courtroom.

“The tragic loss of your beloved daughter left deep wounds in my heart,” said Becerra García, a father of two. “As a parent, I was immersed in deep pain, sadness and remorse.

“My heart goes out to you. I share the difficulty of your loss and the emptiness left by your daughter’s departure.”

While reviewing his client’s background, Coulombe said Becerra Garcia’s maternal grandfather died in 2006 after being hit by a truck.

On December 13, 2022, the girl was on her way to school when she was hit by Becerra García’s Jeep Cherokee in a school zone while walking near the intersection of Parthenais and De Rouen streets. She was one of three Ukrainian siblings who arrived in Montreal with her mother just a few months earlier to flee the Russian invasion.

His father stayed in Ukraine to fight in the war with Russia.

Prosecutor Sylvie Dulude informed the judge that Galyna Legenkovska did not want to address the court on Thursday.

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While reading a statement of facts prepared for the hearing, Dulude said Becerra Garcia was alone in his Jeep when he hit the girl. As she approached the intersection, Dulude said, a city bus stopped to the right of her in the Parthenais St parking lane.

A camera on the bus recorded the moment the girl was hit and a witness to what happened said the girl was walking while crossing.

A few hours later, after seeing a news story about what happened to the girl, Becerra García showed up at a Longueuil police station, in St-Hubert, with his ex-wife.

“He stated that there might have been an accident in Montreal at 8:10 in the morning,” Dulude said, adding that a Longueuil police officer examined the Jeep and found marks on the front bumper, but it was not damaged. Becerra García then agreed to be questioned by a Montreal police officer.

“The defendant said he heard a noise when he was at the intersection of Parthenais and De Rouen. He described feeling a bang under the passenger side rear wheel after hearing the impact,” Dulude said. “He never saw the pedestrian at the intersection. The sun was shining brightly at that time.

“He saw nothing and continued on his way.”

Dulude said she and defense lawyer Éric Coulombe agreed on a common suggestion that Becerra García receive a 12-month sentence that he can serve in the community and be banned from driving for two years. The prosecutor said the fact that Becerra García showed up at the police station hours after the collision and her choice to plead guilty were factors in the suggestion. He also said Becerra García has no criminal record.

Labelle said he will make his sentencing decision, in writing, on June 5.

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