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March 3, 2024

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Vancouver man acquitted of vehicular homicide charges

By , Columbian staff reporter
Published:

A Clark County Superior Court jury acquitted a Vancouver man Thursday of vehicular homicide charges in connection with a July 2019 double-fatal crash involving two motorcycles and an SUV.

The jury returned the not-guilty verdicts for Christian Isaiah Poole, 28, after about an hour of deliberations. The verdict came following four days of trial.

Court records said Poole and Matthew L. Stevens, who was killed in the crash, had been drinking and speeding up and down Northeast 18th Street on their motorcycles on the night of July 26, 2019. The motorcycles were traveling west on 18th Street about 11:45 p.m. when they struck a 2005 BMW X5 SUV, which had turned left onto 18th Street from southbound Northeast 187th Avenue, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

Both Stevens, 23, of Vancouver, and the driver of the SUV, identified as Renee L. Unell, 50, of Camas, were killed.

At trial, a defense crash reconstructionist told the jury that Poole was not involved in the initial crash between Stevens’ motorcycle and Unell’s SUV. He said Poole lost control of his motorcycle when it hit debris from the initial crash, but Poole did not make contact with them, according to a news release from Poole’s defense attorney.

According to the news release, defense attorney Angus Lee told the jury, “What happened here is tragic, but Mr. Poole was not responsible. Holding Poole responsible for what happened in front of him would just add injustice to the tragedy.”

“The defense’s focus was to delineate the difference between mere presence at an accident and actual culpability, arguing that Poole was wrongly accused in a tragic situation he did not cause,” Lee said in the news release.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Dan Gasperino called it a sad case in an email to The Columbian.

“We knew this was a difficult case because of causation issues,” Gasperino said in the email. “We thought this was a case that should be decided by a jury. We thank the jurors in this trial for their service, and we respect their verdict.”

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