A woman facing multiple charges after a fatal car accident last week sobbed and clutched her chest regularly as she made her way to and from an appearance at Dartmouth provincial court yesterday.
Halifax RCMP arrested Beverlee Russell, 54, of Cole Harbour, Monday night after she was released from the QEII Health Sciences Centre. She was immediately taken into custody where eight charges were laid - manslaughter, three counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm, three counts of impaired operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm and failing to remain at the scene of an accident.
Russell is alleged to have left the scene of one collision on Aug. 3 before causing a second one nearby at the intersection of Cole Harbour Road and Forest Hills Parkway. That multi-vehicle crash killed retired teacher, 57-year-old Gary Erroll Pfinder of Cole Harbour. Police allege alcohol played a factor in both crashes.
As she was taken into court by sheriffs, a wheelchair-bound Russell could be heard sobbing regularly about her alleged injuries and health problems. Her behaviour was the same outside as she was taken to-and-from the sheriffs van and into the court’s holding cells.
On her way into the courtroom, Russell was grimacing and looked to be reaching out to what are believed to be her two daughters, both of whom fought back tears.
Inside court, the judge ordered Russell to undergo a psychiatric assessment to determine if she is mentally fit to stand trial. Her defence lawyer made the request for the assessment, to which the Crown agreed. Russell has a long history of mental illness, the court heard.
She is scheduled to return to court Sept. 11 to determine her mental fitness.