A woman accused of stealing donated items, then running down a man in a Goodwill parking lot in Windsor last year, was found not guilty Wednesday.
Heather L. Michano, 29, had been charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, failing to stop at the scene of an accident, assault with a weapon and theft for the Sept. 25, 2016, incident at Goodwill Industries on McDougall Avenue. Police arrested her after surveillance cameras captured video of a woman in a Toyota Corolla drive into the parking lot, rummage through items strewn on the pavement near a donation bin, then drive away striking a man on a bicycle.
Ontario court Justice David Carr said he can’t be certain the woman captured on video was Michano. Michano seems to be taller and have redder hair than the woman in the video, he said.
“I am certainly suspicious that Ms. Michano was the person operating the motor vehicle but, of course, that is not the test I must apply.”
Michano’s defence lawyer, Patrick Ducharme, was less equivocal.
“It’s not her,” he said outside the courtroom.
Michano had a steady job and money to pay for things, Ducharme said. “She doesn’t need to be rummaging through items” Ducharme insisted, echoing Carr’s reservations that he found it strange Michano would have been in the parking lot that day.
Windsor police released a portion of the video along with a description of the vehicle involved. In the accompanying news release, police described the Toyota Corolla as grey.
Michano drove a tan-coloured car.
Police found Michano’s Toyota parked at the Towne and Country Motel on Howard Avenue. They believed it was the same car involved in the incident because it had damage to the right front of the vehicle.
But Ducharme pointed out the car had dings in other places, as well.
A man Michano lived with at the time of the incident told police he recognized her in the video — her clothing and the manner in which she walked. But at trial, he wasn’t as sure.
The man on the bicycle was never called to testify at trial.