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Brian Panebianco used no more force than was necessary when he kicked Cory Jarock out of an Invermere house party in April, 2012, defense counsel said Friday.
Panebianco is on trial in Cranbrook Supreme Court on manslaughter, criminal negligence, assault and robbery charges until Jan. 24.
On Friday, defense counsel Greg Sawchuk said that most of the injuries a pathologist reported from Jarock's autopsy were caused by the young man thrashing around as he died of hypothermia on the morning of April 3, 2012.
During the trial last week, the jury heard that Jarock had a blood alcohol concentration of about 350 mg when he was kicked out of an Invermere house party on a cool spring night. He died of hypothermia overnight and was found by a passing driver about lunchtime the next day.
Panebianco took the stand to testify on Friday about the events of that fateful night. He said that he was invited by Emma Cain to Caitlin Jensen's house on April 2 to "hang out". At about 10:30 p.m., Cory Jarock joined the gathering and shared 15 beer with the group. Later, Jensen brought out a bottle of vodka, which the group also drank. Panebianco said he had about three drinks that night.
When an intoxicated Jarock overstayed his welcome, Panebianco said, Cain and Jensen asked him to get Jarock to leave. Panebianco said he wouldn't help.
"At first, I said, 'It's your house, you can deal with it. I don't know the guy, I don't want to be a part of it.'"
But, Panebianco continued, when the girls insisted that Jarock leave, Jarock became rude, swearing at them and grabbing Cain's backside.
Then Panebianco stepped in, at first verbally trying to convince Jarock to leave. Jarock made a movement to get up, which Panebianco interpreted as Jarock about to fight him.
"I gave him a little smack upside the head," Panebianco said, indicating that he used his right forearm to strike Jarock on the left cheek. Then he picked Jarock up under his arms and removed him from the house.
Jarock walked down the porch stairs himself, Panebianco testified.
Panebianco then went back inside, found Jarock's coat and shoes, and took them outside too. At first he denied it on the stand, but under cross-examination Panebianco admitted taking $30 or $40 from Jarock's pocket, giving $20 of it to Jensen to pay for the vodka.
When asked why he first denied it, Panebianco said: "It was the wrong thing to do and I didn't want to own up to it."
Panebianco left the party about 45 minutes later. Jarock was still lying on the driveway. Panebianco picked up a stick and poked Jarock, he said, telling him it was time to go home. Jarock swore at him and Panebianco left.
"There was nothing wrong with him, not a darn thing," said Panebianco.
The next day, he said, after Jarock was found to have died in the driveway, Jensen called Cain, who was with Panebianco, asking what Panebianco had done.
Panebianco said it made him nervous that she was asking that question, so he decided not to go to the house and speak to police.
"I should have gone there and dealt with it like a man," he said.
In cross-examination, Crown prosecutor Lynal Doerksen showed Panebianco a series of text messages between him, Jensen and Cain the morning of April 3, in which he asks the girls to say that they kicked Jarock out, not him.
"I just wanted to eliminate myself from what happened," said Panebianco. "It was a silly mistake."
Doerksen questioned why Panebianco left Jarock lying on the driveway.
"Did it ever occur to you to phone the police and say, 'There's a drunk out here'?" Doerksen asked.
"No, he was responsive," Panebianco answered. "I thought he would get up and go home."
Doerksen suggested that Panebianco did not like Jarock so he got mad, assaulted him, threw him out of the house and kicked him while he was outside.
"That's so far from the truth," Panebianco said. "Anybody who has seen this case and heard the evidence will know that."
"We shall see," Doerksen responded.
The trial continues Monday, Jan. 20.