Youth pleads guilty in fatal crash

A 16-year-old boy pleaded guilty on Monday to driving a stolen SUV that slammed into a taxi and killed the driver in March 2008.

DNA evidence used to prove he was driving

A 16-year-old boy pleaded guilty on Monday to driving a stolen SUV that slammed into a taxi, killing the driver in March 2008.

The teen can't be named under provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.  He admitted to charges of criminal negligence causing death and bodily harm.  In return, the Crown stayed charges of manslaughter and possession of property obtained by crime.

Antonio Lanzellotti, 55, died instantly when a stolen Chevy Avalanche SUV,  speeding through a red light at Portage Avenue and Maryland Street in Winnipeg, slammed into his taxi.

Court documents obtained by CBC News show the cabbie's injuries included a large skull fracture, lacerations to his brain, and multiple fractures to his ribs, legs and chest.

Documents said the SUV was racing a stolen truck driven by another group of teen car thieves just moments before the crash.

The Avalanche ran two sets of red lights and the vehicle's onboard computer recorded it was moving at 139 km/h when it slammed into Lanzellotti's cab. The posted speed limit on that section of Portage Avenue is 50 km/h.

The lone passenger in the cab was injured as were six people in the SUV. The driver, then 14, was thrown from the stolen vehicle then hit by a passing car. Documents said he needed help to walk because of a dislocated hip.

DNA linked boy to driver's seat

 The teen told paramedics at the scene that he was injured by debris from the crash as he was walking by the scene. The Crown said he identified a different person — someone who was not in the SUV — as the driver.

However, when police confronted him with DNA evidence recovered from the SUV airbag, he confessed to being the driver.  The teen has been in custody since his arrest after the crash.

Sentencing will take place in the new year. Crown attorney Brent Davidson said he will seek an adult sentence against the teen.

However, the teen's lawyer plans to contest this and argue he should be sentenced under the much less harsh provisions of Canada's youth justice laws.

If sentenced as an adult, the boy faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. There is no mandatory minimum.

In the youth system, the maximum penalty for criminal negligence causing death is three years of custody and community supervision.