A preliminary hearing is underway for a Winnipeg man accused of crashing a speeding SUV into a hair salon in April, killing a young mother.
Adebola Shoyoye, 34, has pleaded not guilty to charges including criminal negligence causing death, criminal negligence causing bodily harm, dangerous operation causing death and dangerous operation causing bodily harm. None of the allegations has been proven and he is presumed innocent.
A court-ordered ban prevents specific details of the hearing from being published. A provincial court judge must decide if there is sufficient evidence to order Shoyoye to stand trial.
Kendall Wiebe, 27, was killed in the April 2012 crash, while another woman was seriously injured.
Police spent six months investigating before laying charges against Shoyoye, who proclaimed his innocence in an interview with the Free Press.
"I thought they were going to clear me," Shoyoye said. "As God is my witness, I did nothing wrong."
Police said their investigation, which included working with Transport Canada and Chrysler Canada, could find no mechanical problems with the 2012 Jeep Liberty that Shoyoye was driving that day. As a result, they said the only conclusion police were left with was driver error.
There have been widespread reports of Jeep models experiencing unintended acceleration in Canada and the United States over the past few years but subsequent investigations by authorities in both countries found no mechanical defects.
Shoyoye said he had rented the Jeep three days before the accident. On the day of the crash, he had spent the afternoon visiting his mother, who had only recently moved to Winnipeg from Nigeria.
Shoyoye said he was on his way home when the Jeep went out of control.
"I pushed the brake, it would not stop," Shoyoye said. "The police told me that I somehow made a mistake, hit the gas instead of the brake but that’s not how it happened. The vehicle would not stop."
Shoyoye said he can’t express how he feels over Wiebe’s death and the impact that has caused her family and friends.
"I don’t understand why God let me live and not her," he said.
Shoyoye came to Winnipeg in 2002. He got his driver’s licence in 2005. He said he was a student at the University of Manitoba at the time of the crash, adding he graduated in June 2012 with an undergraduate degree in criminology. He said his goal is to work some day with customs or to return to school to study law.
Steve Cancilla, Wiebe's’s common-law husband, said at the time he didn’t believe Shoyoye’s version of events. Cancilla said there were plenty of opportunities for Shoyoye to stop the Jeep before it hit the hair salon, adding he could have crashed the Jeep into any number of parked cars or empty businesses.
"I think that a load of BS," Cancilla told the Free Press. "That was a brand new car from a rental agency -- there was nothing wrong with it. Any idiot could have figured that out. I just couldn’t believe it took them six months."
Wiebe was the mother of the couple’s four-year-old daughter, Brynn, and was helping raise Cancilla’s nine-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.