Brian King pleads guilty: Hannah Thorne's mother calling for stiffest possible sentence
Co-accused Steven Mercer shakes things up by electing trial by judge alone in Supreme Court
The mother of an 18-year-old girl killed in a street racing incident near New Harbour 14 months ago is calling for the stiffest possible punishment for the man at the wheel that day.
"I'm hoping the judge will want more than they're asking," Gail Thorne told CBC News Monday, just hours after Brian Robert King, 32, of Bay Roberts entered guilty pleas on charges of street racing causing death and dangerous operation of a vehicle causing bodily harm.
King made an appearance in Harbour Grace provincial court, where he changed his plea from not guilty to guilty on three of seven charges, avoiding the need for a painful trial.
"I'm glad we don't have to sit in a room with a room full of despicable people," Gail Thorne added.
Twist as Steven Mercer elects Supreme Court trial
Four other charges against King, including criminal negligence causing death, were not dealt with, suggesting they may be withdrawn as part of a plea bargain when the matter is back before a judge on Oct. 5.
"He killed my daughter senselessly. The accident did not have to happen. They broke the law terribly," Thorne said.
The case against a co-accused, meanwhile, also took a twist Monday.
Steven Ryan Mercer, 30, of Upper Island Cove, who was driving another vehicle, has pleaded not guilty to 14 charges, with a trial scheduled to commence on Oct. 2 in provincial court.
But Mercer's lawyer notified the court Monday that his client wants to be tried at Supreme Court before judge alone, with an arraignment likely to take place in November.
That means a trial will not take place until sometime next year.
Gail Thorne said it's part of the "game" being played by the two accused and their families throughout the ordeal.
"Their humanity does not come out to show remorse," she said, expressing anger that it took more than a year for King to acknowledge his guilt.
King was at the wheel of a Ford F-150 pickup when it collided head-on at high speed with a much smaller Hyundai car on Route 73 — better known as the New Harbour Barrens — on the afternoon of July 7, 2016.
Thorne was in the passenger seat, and died in the crash. Her 81-year-old grandmother, Gertie Thorne, was at the wheel and was seriously injured.
Steven Mercer facing 14 charges
Sources say Mercer was ahead of King in the oncoming lane, and swerved to avoid a collision at the last second, while King's truck drove head-on into the Hyundai, resulting in a violent explosion of steel, glass and broken bodies.
- 'It has to mean something': Family, friends of Hannah Thorne want young woman's death to spark change
King will be back in provincial court on Oct. 5 for a reading of the facts in the case, and again on Nov. 16 for a pre-sentence report and possible sentencing.