Ronald Rees pleads guilty to two counts in death of Leanne Holland Brown
KITCHENER -- A Cambridge man has pleaded guilty to two charges in connection to the death of Laurier's former Dean of Students.
Leanne Holland Brown, 43, was hit by a vehicle while she was walking on the sidewalk near MacGregor School in Waterloo on April 24, 2019.
Ronald Rees, 57, made a court appearance in Kitchener on Thursday morning.
He pleaded guilty to one count of impaired driving causing death and dangerous driving causing death in the crash.
The court heard that his ability was impaired by high amounts of THC and a substantial contributor to the incident.
Rees also had cold medicine and prescribed drugs on him. He says he smoked a marijuana joint just before the crash and then coughed and passed out before the incident happened.
"I found it appalling," said Sharon-Lee Landereault of MADD Canada, who was in the courtroom. "Especially when he was on other drugs for cold and no food. That reaction makes it so much worse, plus the fact of how much marijuana he smokes in a day.
"What really struck me is how he wishes the government had not legalized it."
Court documents state Rees’ car suddenly accelerated as Holland Brown and a friend were walking on the sidewalk in front of the school.
Brown jumped to the left as the vehicle came onto the sidewalk while a friend jumped to the right, the court heard.
She suffered multiple blunt forces including fractured skull and a ruptured heart.
The court heard that there were four witnesses inside the school on Central Street, which included a 13-year-old student.
Rees was also taken to hospital. The court heard that he told police, “I effed up my life.”
Days after the crash, police found an apology letter and a photo of Holland Brown in Rees’ wallet.
The letter read in part: “I’m the one should be dead not you. Your two boys will grow up without the Mom. I took that away from them. I’m not looking for pity or forgive. I deserve what I get."
Landereault says an apology like that doesn’t happen very often in these kinds of cases.
“Most cases they won’t plead guilty,” the MADD Canada member said. “Even when they have to they don’t say they’re sorry like that.”
The court heard that hospital staff took note of what Rees said the day after the crash, which included: “he smokes a quarter of marijuana daily, and that it is not a good thing the government legalized it.”
Rees was taken into custody days after Holland Brown died. The court heard that he told an officer: “Okay, I won’t run. I gotta’ face the music. I owe her.”
Police found three burnt joints along with cold medicine in Rees’ car, according to the agreed statement of facts.
He is scheduled to be sentenced on April 22.