The man accused of killing a 2 year old boy by driving his vehicle through the patio of a south side Edmonton restaurant two years ago pleaded guilty in provincial court Friday to refusing to provide a breath sample when there is a death.
Richard Suter, 64, faced five impaired driving related charges in the death of Geo Mounsef, killed May 19, 2013, while dining with his parents and one year old brother at a Terwillegar area restaurant.
Suter was charged with impaired driving causing death, three counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm, and refusing to provide a breath sample in a death, a relatively new charge in the Criminal Code that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for seven years.
A sentencing hearing for Suter is scheduled to start Oct. 19. The other charges have not been withdrawn, but it's expected they will be.
In a brief agreed statement of facts read in court Friday, Crown prosecutor Neil Wiberg said Suter drove through a glass window on the restaurant's patio, striking a table.
Restaurant patrons thought the driver appeared impaired. When a police officer arrived, she smelled alcohol on Suter and demanded a breath sample.
Suter was taken to a police station where he contacted a lawyer. After the call, he refused to give a breath sample.
Outside court, Suter's lawyer, Dino Bottos, said his client was not impaired by alcohol when he pressed the wrong pedal and crashed into the patio, a statement disputed by George Mounsef and Sage Morin, Geo's parents.
"This family has suffered a great deal emotionally and they will be fearful for years to come," Bottos said, as Suter and his wife Gayska stood behind him, his wife visibly upset.
Bottos spoke about the "emotional toll" the case has taken on Suter and his family, who now live in fear, he said.
Earlier this week, a man was charged in connection with a January incident in which Suter was abducted from his home by three men, beaten and had his thumb cut off.
Steven Gordon Vollrath, 32, was charged with kidnapping and aggravated assault. He is also accused of trying to shoot a police officer in B.C.
After the attack on Suter, Morin wrote on social media, condemning the violence.
Supporters of the family of Geo Mounsef, wearing T shirts with the slogan "Justice for Geo," packed the courtroom Friday, as they have throughout the case.
"Today, Geo is smiling on us all because we have taken the first step toward achieving justice for Geo," said George Mounsef outside court, wearing a "Justice for Geo" T shirt with a photo of his son's face on it.
"It may be too little too late, but we are headed in the right direction," Morin said.
She recently posted a message to her son on the Justice for Geo Facebook page on the second anniversary of his death.
"My goodness, what a big boy you must be," she wrote to her son. "It has been so hard, learning how to live again after such a big part of me died with you that day."
Morin wrote about missing her son's songs, wild energy and sweet, caring nature, and told him how his little brother "isn't so little any more."
"We all miss you so much, and sometimes I swear I feel you with us," she wrote. "I close my eyes and try to imagine what you would look like now. You would almost be five, my big handsome dude."