A Calgary man charged with first-degree murder in the fatal hit and run in Olds, Alta., on Friday has made his first court appearance.
Jeffrey Kevin Leinen, 24, is charged in the death of 18-year-old Nicholas Baier outside a bar in the central Alberta community.
During his brief court appearance in Calgary on Monday, Leinen — a short man with tattoos on his neck and arms — stood quietly.
Baier was standing with a group of friends outside Texas Mickey Bar shortly after midnight when a pickup truck plowed through the crowd.
Baier was killed, one other person was seriously injured, and two others were treated in hospital for minor injuries.
In a written statement, Baier's family said he was a kind, gentle and caring person.
The statement calls his death a senseless act and expresses the hope that the judicial system ensures no other family has to go through this pain and loss.
Leinen's lawyer, Andre Ouellette, said that in cases like this the suspect is usually charged with second-degree murder. He said his client has been "overcharged."
Ouellette said it is extremely difficult to prove first-degree, which involves premeditation.
"It doesn't get more serious than first-degree murder," said Ouellette.
"He's doing as well as can be expected in these circumstances. He was injured as part of an incident in the bar, and as part of the rollover, so he's physically not that well, but he's going to have to deal with it. He's had sutures to a hand, an ear, his forehead [and] his face."
Leinen also faces a number of other charges, including impaired operation of a motor vehicle causing death.
"My understanding is … there would certainly be a substantial amount of blood alcohol in a number of people including, as I understand, my client," said Ouellette. "That had a lot to do with forming an intention."
Doug King, acting chairman of justice studies at Mount Royal University, agrees first-degree murder is a surprise.
"You have to prove that the individual had prior intent to cause the damage that they caused, so that's a pretty significant burden when it comes to first-degree murder," said King.
Leinen will appear in court again in Didsbury on Wednesday.
Baier's funeral will be held in his hometown of Altario, Alta., on Thursday.