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Text sent shortly before fatal crash, court told

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Emergency personnel had to cut the roof and a door off Mark Derry's car after it was hit on Dugald Road. Derry died as a result of the collision.

PHIL HOSSACK / FREE PRESS FILES Enlarge Image

Emergency personnel had to cut the roof and a door off Mark Derry's car after it was hit on Dugald Road. Derry died as a result of the collision.

Lawyers defending a young Winnipeg man accused of being drunk and texting at the wheel and then crashing and killing a fellow motorist have begun laying legal groundwork in their bid to see blood evidence in the case thrown out of court.

Vann Hansell, 22, is accused of criminal negligence and impaired driving causing the death of Mark Derry, 53, in an evening crash on Dugald Road on Sept. 6, 2011. He has pleaded not guilty and is presumed innocent.

Defence lawyers Katherine Smith and Sheldon Pinx are challenging the chain of custody of three vials of Hansell's blood taken while he was being checked out at the Health Sciences Centre after the crash.

Court heard today Hansell readily agreed to be tested by police with an alcohol screening device and blew a "warn."

That indicated to investigators there was some alcohol in his body, in the grey area between 0.05 and 0.08 blood-alcohol content.

That test wasn't enough to satisfy police there were reasonable and probable grounds to arrest Hansell for impaired driving-related offences at that time, Patrol Sgt. August Marin testified.

Police then obtained a warrant for Hansell's blood, which is not being challenged.

Pinx began questioning police officers today about their handling of the blood vials and how they ultimately made their way to the RCMP for testing.

Hansell turned himself in to be rearrested on impaired-related charges on Oct. 12, 2011.

Witnesses from the hospital, additional officers and others will testify about the blood's chain of custody Thursday.

In other trial developments, court heard today a text message was sent from Hansell's iPhone at 7:55 p.m. on the day of the crash.

According to the police technician who examined the device, the text stated: "West Hawk must have been nice."

Six texts were sent from the same phone between 7:39 p.m. and 7:55 p.m., Const. Robert Cole said.

Witnesses have put the time of the crash at around 8 p.m.

Court has already heard from several witnesses that Hansell admitted to texting on his phone right after the collision.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

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