Vehicular homicide witness allowed to live with suspect's family

Kalista Andino is the girlfriend of suspect Brandon Smith

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

Published:

 

The live-in girlfriend of the man accused of killing two women in a crosswalk in a hit-and-run collision in Vancouver will be allowed to live with a couple related to his family.

Brandon Smith's girlfriend, Kalista Andino, and Smith's mother, Linda Smith, are accused of tampering with witnesses in the vehicular homicide case against him. A court order bars them from having any form of contact with each other or other witnesses in the case.

However, Clark County Superior Court Judge David Gregerson today allowed Andino to live with Terry and Maryanna Belland of Washougal, despite objections by Senior Deputy Prosecutor Kasey Vu and a supervised release officer. The Bellands are the parents of Brandon Smith's sister-in-law, Briana Peterson. Peterson is married to Smith's half-brother, Craig Peterson, of Camas.

Raisa Mosh, 45, and Irina Gardinant, 28, were killed about 8 p.m. Jan. 19 when a white pickup struck them in a crosswalk at Northeast 72nd Avenue and Vancouver Mall Drive. Vancouver police said Smith was the driver. He fled the scene of the collision without calling 911 or trying to help the victims, they said. Mosh's 12-year-old son also was injured.

Since Smith's Jan. 29 arrest, Andino has been living alone with her 6-month-old daughter in the apartment she shared with Smith at the time of collision.

Her attorney, Megan Peyton, said today that Andino can no longer afford the apartment, which is located in the VanMall neighborhood. Andino also is concerned for her safety in the apartment because of possible backlash from the public, Briana Peterson said. The apartment's address has been published in multiple media reports, including in The Columbian's coverage.

Andino has been unable to find another place to stay, which isn't associated with Smith's family, Peyton said.

"I kind of volunteered to my daughter because we are basically on the outside of it," Maryanna Belland told Judge Gregerson today.

She and Terry Belland testified under oath that they had met Andino only a few times at family gatherings. Terry Belland, a retired police detective from Montclair Police Department in California, said he would try to prevent any contact between Andino and witnesses, which is forbidden by the court order.

Vu said he opposed Andino staying with any member of Smith's family. He said as a single mother without employment, she will be dependent on the Bellands for food and shelter and vulnerable to the Smith family's influence.

"It could be a look; it could be a comment," Vu said. "...There is a potential she could be influenced." Vu said there's also the potential that she could influence witnesses through her association with Smith's family.

Vu said police efforts to uncover the truth were slow-moving because Andino and some other witnesses continue not to cooperate.

He said that if Andino can't find an address away from Smith's family, she should be lodged in jail until she is able to do so.

Supervised release officer Tim Sterns concurred with Vu.

"We are very concerned that there not be any compromising of witnesses in this case," Sterns said. Sterns said that while sympathetic to Andino's dilemma, protecting the administration of justice is the "higher concern."

Peyton countered that Andino should not be punished for exercising her constitution right not to make incriminating statements about herself.

"I don't want to see her go to jail and see her baby taken away," Maryanna Belland said. "It's wrong. She is a very sweet young lady and a very good mom from what I've seen."

The Bellands already had taken on the responsibility from Child Protective Services of checking in on Andino and her baby at their apartment, Maryanna Belland said. (Child Protective Services briefly took custody of the baby when Andino was arrested on the witness tampering charge. Andino was later released after posting $30,000 bail.)

After allowing the new living arrangment, Gregerson warned Andino and the Bellands that if there is any violation of the order for no contact between witnesses, he would not hesitate to put Andino back in jail. He said the Bellands also could face prosecution if they allow or assist in any such contact.

Paris Achen: 360-735-4551; http://twitter.com/Col_Courts;http://facebook.com/ColTrends;paris.achen@columbian.com.