Vancouver man exonerated in vehicular homicide case

Christian Poole was found not guilty on two counts of vehicular homicide stemming from a July 2019 collision that claimed the lives of Matthew Stevens and Renee Unell.
Vancouver Attorney Angus Lee

Christian Poole was found not guilty on two counts stemming from a July 2019 collision that claimed the lives of Matthew Stevens and Renee Unell

VANCOUVER – A Clark County jury has delivered a verdict of not guilty for Christian Poole, a Vancouver resident, on two counts of vehicular homicide. The trial, a four-day legal battle that started Monday (Dec. 4), culminated in an hour of jury deliberation, ending in Poole’s favor. Two other counts filed against Poole were dismissed during the trial.

The investigation, spearheaded by the Vancouver Police Department, had Officer Robert Block as the lead detective. The evidence and probable cause affidavit he submitted placed Poole at the center of a tragic accident in July 2019 involving his motorcycle, another motorcycle, and an SUV, which resulted in immediate fatalities of 23-year-old Matthew Stevens, a 2014 graduate of Camas High School, and Renee Unell, at the time a 50-year-old resident of Camas. 

Accusations of excessive speed and alcohol consumption by Poole prior to the crash further complicated the narrative prior to this week’s trial.

At the helm of the prosecution was Deputy Prosecutor Anna Klein from the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office, with Senior Deputy Prosecutor Dan Gasperino leading the trial proceedings. Overseeing the trial was Superior Court Judge Jennifer Snider.

The defense, led by Vancouver attorney Angus Lee, took a different stance than the narrative provided by Officer Block’s investigation. Lee’s representation of Poole was not just a defense but a complete counter-narrative. Calling upon the expertise of David Wells, an accident reconstruction specialist, Lee attempted to dismantle the prosecution’s story piece by piece. Wells’ testimony was crucial, indicating that Poole was not involved in the initial collision which occurred significantly ahead of him. He brought to light the risky nature of the intersection’s design, where a poorly placed stop sign contributed to the accident. Wells also confirmed that Poole’s motorcycle lost control due to debris from the prior collision, leading to a slide that steered clear of the other vehicles.

Lee’s defense hinged on the principle that being present at an accident scene does not equate to guilt. He told the jury, “What happened here is tragic, but Mr. Poole was not responsible. Holding Poole responsible for what happened in front of him would just add injustice to the tragedy.”

In a statement following the verdict, Angus Lee expressed, “Justice has been rightly served today. This case was about discerning the truth amidst a complex set of circumstances, and the jury’s verdict confirms Mr. Poole’s innocence.”

He added, “In our pursuit of justice, it’s crucial to remember that being at the scene of an accident does not equate to culpability. Today’s decision reaffirms this important legal distinction.”

Lee also remarked on the broader implications of the trial, saying, “The outcome of this trial is a testament to our judicial system’s commitment to fairness and objectivity. It highlights the importance of thorough and unbiased examination in determining the truth.”

The verdict not only exonerated Poole but Lee believes it also underscored the importance of discerning actual culpability in tragic accidents, a task that the defense argued was overlooked in Poole’s case.

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