Girlfriend, mother of alleged driver in fatal hit-and-run appear in court

The women were arrested Friday on suspicion of witness tampering

By Paris Achen and Emily Gillespie

Published:

Updated: January 27, 2014, 10:27 AM

 

The girlfriend and mother of the alleged driver in a fatal hit-and-run crash made their first appearances in Clark County Superior Court on Monday for trying to keep people from speaking to investigators.

Vancouver police arrested Linda Diane Smith, 63, and Kalista Jade Andino, 21, on Friday evening in the 2800 block of Northwest Madrona Street. According to police, Smith was arrested on suspicion of two counts of witness tampering; Andino was arrested on suspicion of one count of the same charge.

The alleged driver in the collision, whom Senior Deputy Prosecutor Kasey Vu identified as Brandon Smith, has not been arrested in the case.

Vancouver Police Major Crimes Detective Sgt. Troy Price said detectives continue to investigate the hit-and-run, which killed two Vancouver women this month. He said he couldn’t reveal specifically what police need to have before arresting the driver.

“In order to put our best foot forward, we have to play our cards a little close,” Price said. “We have to make sure we’ve done our diligence and have everything that’s pertinent to this case in hand before grabbing this guy and taking him into custody.”

He said that after the driver is arrested, detectives plan to arrest others who have impeded the investigation.

“It is against the law to lie to law enforcement in a criminal investigation. We did run into quite a bit of that,” he said. He added that the witness tampering arrests will “serve as a deterrent in the future. Don’t lie and present problems for investigators. We’re doing what the public has charged us with doing.”

The fatal crash occurred around 8 p.m. Jan. 19 at the intersection of Northeast Vancouver Mall Drive and 72nd Avenue. Police said a white pickup struck two women, Raisa Mosh, 45, and Irina Gardinant, 28, who were crossing Vancouver Mall Drive in the crosswalk. Mosh died at the scene, and Gardinant died later at an area hospital.

Mosh’s 12-year-old son was also hit and sustained minor injuries.

Andino is the live-in girlfriend of Brandon Smith, the alleged driver of the Toyota pickup that struck and killed the women, Vu said in court Monday. Andino was a passenger in the vehicle on the night of the collision, Vu said.

She’s accused of confiding in a relative about the crash and then instructing the relative not to talk to police about the incident.

According to a court affidavit, Andino told the relative that “it was very dark and foggy at the time” of the collision and that she and her boyfriend didn’t see the pedestrians or know what they hit.

Brandon Smith, 27, and Andino have a 5-month-old child together, Vu said.

Judge David Gregerson set Andino’s bail at $30,000 and appointed Vancouver attorney Megan Peyton to defend her.

Peyton said her client has no criminal record.

Vu said that Linda Smith, Brandon Smith’s mother, contacted at least two witnesses and told them not to talk to police. Gregerson set her bail at $50,000. She said she will hire her own attorney.

(Linda Smith is not the former 3rd District congresswoman of the same name.)

Linda Smith and Andino are scheduled to be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 7.

In the days following the crash, police searched for the vehicle, the driver and anyone with information. A break in the case came Tuesday, when detectives located and seized a white pickup with front-end damage from the Larkspur Place Apartments, 7609 N.E. Vancouver Mall Drive, where Andino and Brandon Smith live together.

The Washington State Patrol is assisting Vancouver police by analyzing the pickup for evidence, Price said. Price said he doesn’t know when that process would be completed.

Price said that police still hope to hear from the occupants of a black pickup that witnesses said went through the intersection immediately after the crash.

Anyone with information on the crime is asked to call the Vancouver Police Department at 360-487-7402. Crime Stoppers is offering up to $1,000 for any information that leads to an arrest in the case. Tipsters can remain anonymous. People can submit tips online at Crime Stoppers; text 823HELP followed by the tip to 274637; or call 503-823-4357.