Thunder Bay OPP Sergeant Darryl Storey has pleaded not guilty to charges of criminal negligence causing death after a fatal motor vehicle collision in December 2008.

The trial — which began in Thunder Bay Superior Court Monday — came after the police’s Special Investigations Unit found reasonable grounds to believe the officer was criminally responsible for the death of 18-year-old Jasmine Veneruzzo of Murillo, Ontario.

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Jasmine Veneruzzo was killed in a car collision Dec. 3, 2008. Photo: Everest Funeral Home Web site

On Dec. 3, 2008 there was a collision at Highway 11/17 and Twin City Crossroads between an OPP police car driven by Storey and a car driven by Veneruzzo, who sustained fatal injuries in the crash.

Neither the Crown nor the defence gave opening statements at the trial, which is being heard by a judge, without a jury.

The Crown called four witnesses before court recessed for lunch. The witnesses all said they saw an unmarked police car in the area that morning, being driven at a noticeably high rate of speed, without its lights or siren activated.

A woman, who was driving her child to school that morning, said she had never seen a car accelerate that rapidly.

All four witnesses said the car was driving without warning lights or a siren. 

Two of the witnesses testified that minutes later they came across the scene of the accident, and noticed an unmarked police car was involved.  They said they thought it was the same car, but upon cross-examination by Storey's defence lawyer, could not confirm the exact colour of the vehicle, except that it was a dark shade.   

Three weeks have been set aside for the trial.