Anthony Cortez and Danielle “Deedee” Charlton are seen in these undated Facebook images. Cortez faces numerous charges after allegedly crashing a stolen vehicle near Hope on Sept. 11, 2017, a crash that killed Charlton.

Suspect in fatal crash near Hope charged in death of female passenger

Anthony Cortez sentenced in crime spree in Chilliwack court last August faces more serious charge

A man who allegedly killed his passenger in a crash in Hope in 2017 after a crime spree that went from the Kootenays to the Lower Mainland will now go to trial for that death.

More than eight months ago, Anthony Creed Cortez was sentenced to time served for a series of crimes in 2017 including robbing a jewelry store in Nelson and stealing an SUV, a pickup truck, and a motorcycle.

On Sept. 11, 2017, Cortez smashed a jewelry store window in Nelson and stole $30,000 worth of product. He then stole a Chevrolet Equinox that he crashed into a highway maintenance vehicle near Hope. His companion in the vehicle, Danielle “DeeDee” Charlton, died in the crash.

After a Good Samaritan stopped to help, Cortez stole his pickup truck and fled the scene.

Nine days later he was caught near Revelstoke after stealing a motorcycle and fleeing police. He tried to break into a cabin but was arrested after a fight with a police officer.

In Chilliwack provincial court on Aug. 27, 2018, Cortez was sentenced to time served by Judge Wendy Young. Nelson Crown counsel and Cortez’s lawyer N. Swartz agreed to a joint sentence of nine months in jail for the jewelry store heist. Swartz asked for seven months for the Revestoke crimes, essentially time served, while Crown sought 12 months to run consecutive.

Young agreed with defence submissions.

After handing down sentence, Cortez addressed the judge with an apology to the court and to the service members involved with his arrest.

“I put them at risk and heartache and I’ve had some time to think and reflect and I’m sincerely sorry to all of them for my actions,” he said, making no mention of Charlton or her family. “I stand before you today, you have my word that you won’t see me standing here before you again. I’ve learned my lesson and I want to move on with my life and be a good father for my eight-year-old kid.”

Cortez was also convicted of three breaches of court orders forbidding him from contacting Charlton and sentenced to 21 days jail. He was also charged with an assault on Charlton from April 16, but Crown counsel Michelle Wray ordered a stay of proceedings since the case could not be proven after the woman’s death.

Nothing more was said about Charlton’s death at the Aug. 27 hearing, but between then and now, Crown proceeded to lay charges. He now faces six more charges counts: dangerous driving causing death; failure to stop at accident causing bodily harm; theft of motor vehicle; occupying a vehicle knowing a firearm is present; and two counts of possession of a firearm without licence.

The case is scheduled for a one-day focus hearing on Sept. 23 followed by a five-day preliminary inquiry running Dec. 12, 13, 16, 17, 18.

Unless he pleads guilty before ore after those dates, a trial will follow.

• READ MORE: Suspect in fatal crash, jewelry heist charged with assault

• READ MORE: Suspect in fatal crash charged in jewelry heist

– with files from Martha Wickett


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

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