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Hit-and-run driver sent man flying through air, witness testifies

BY KEITH LACEY klacey@northernlife.ca A young man testified he watched in disbelief as an unwanted guest at a house party got into a vehicle, drove away recklessly and hit another man, sending him flying several metres in the air.
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BY KEITH LACEY

A young man testified he watched in disbelief as an unwanted guest at a house party got into a vehicle, drove away recklessly and hit another man, sending him flying several metres in the air.

Michael Baiani, 33, has pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving causing bodily harm, assault and leaving the scene of an accident.

Baiani?s trial is being heard before an eight-man, four-woman jury in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

Keith Girard, 21, said he was visiting his sister with his girlfriend the evening of Sept. 18 last year and they and a bunch of friends went out for a night on the town drinking.

When he returned to his sister?s apartment, Baiani, a man he had never met before, was sitting at a kitchen table with a few friends, said Girard.

After grabbing a beer, Girard, who admits he was already intoxicated, testified he quickly became upset with Baiani, who insisted repeatedly that he shake his hand. It was his opinion Baiani was also intoxicated.

?He asked me to shake his hand several times and I said ?no?,? he said. ?I was getting a little annoyed because he asked me about seven times...he kept asking me over and over.?

Girard testified he told a good friend of his at the party it was time for Baiani to leave and that man agreed, but Baiani said, ?he wasn?t leaving?.

Girard said he and his friend asked Baiani to leave twice more and again he refused, so he grabbed him by the arm to escort him out. Baiani threw a punch at him, striking him near his right eye, he said.

He punched Baiani once or twice striking him in the face and he and his friend managed to grab Baiani and get him outside the apartment into the hallway, he said.

When asked if he had any intention of getting in a fight that night, Girard testified he had never been in a fight in his life.

More verbal jousts were exchanged in the hallway, but he wanted Baiani outside the building because he didn?t trust him in the same building where his sister lived, said Girard.

Outside the building in the parking lot, Baiani started the ignition of his vehicle, backed out of the parking space and took off at a high rate of speed, he said.

?He was reckless...his tires were squealing,? Girard testified.

Seconds later, he heard a thud and saw a man he knew as ?Bert,? who was later identified in court as Daniel Norbert, go flying through the air after being hit by Baiani?s vehicle.

?I saw him get hit. He flew across the street...and landed on a lawn across the street,? he said.

Baiani left the scene and never returned and didn?t offer assistance, said Girard.

?He looked like he was in a hurry to get out of there.?

Ambulance crews arrived and Norbert was taken away to hospital, he said.

Assistant Crown attorney Diana Fuller told the jury Norbert suffered a fractured heel and was in a cast for four months after being struck by the vehicle.

Baiani is being defended by Herve Sauve.

The trial is expected to go to the jury by Friday.





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