Anthony Cortez and Danielle (Deedee) Charlton are seen in these undated Facebook images. Cortez faces numerous charges after allegedly crashing a stolen vehicle near Hope on Sept. 11, 2017, a crash that killed Charlton. Photos: Facebook

Man whose crime spree began in Nelson pleads guilty in death of female passenger

Anthony Cortez scheduled to be sentenced for 2017 incidents

A man who killed his passenger in a vehicle crash in Hope in 2017 following a southern B.C.-wide crime spree that began in Nelson is scheduled for a sentencing hearing on the last day of 2020.

While Anthony Creed Cortez was scheduled for a five-day preliminary inquiry in December of 2019, he instead pleaded guilty to the charges, which include: dangerous driving causing death and theft of motor vehicle.

Cortez was originally also charged with failure to stop at accident causing bodily harm, occupying a vehicle knowing a firearm is present and two other firearms offences.

The death of Danielle (DeeDee) Charlton in his vehicle was part of a crime spree that went from the Kootenays to the Lower Mainland in 2017. Cortez was already sentenced to time served for a series of crimes in 2017 including robbing a jewelry store in Nelson and stealing an SUV, a pickup truck, and a motorcycle.

On Sept. 11, 2017, he smashed a jewelry store window in Nelson and stole $30,000 worth of product. He then allegedly stole a Chevrolet Equinox that he crashed into a highway maintenance vehicle near Hope. His companion in the vehicle, Charlton, died in the crash.

• READ MORE: Suspect in fatal crash, jewelry heist charged with assault

• READ MORE: Suspect in fatal crash charged in jewelry heist

After a Good Samaritan stopped to help, Cortez stole a pickup and fled.

Nine days later, he was caught near Revelstoke after stealing a motorcycle and fleeing police.

In Chilliwack provincial court on Aug. 27, 2018, Cortez was sentenced to time served by Judge Wendy Young. Nelson Crown counsel and Cortez’s lawyer agreed to a joint sentence of nine months in jail for the jewelry store heist. Swartz asked for seven months for the Revelstoke crimes, essentially time served, while Crown sought 12 months to run consecutive.

After sentencing, Cortez addressed the judge with an apology to the service members involved with his arrest.

“I put them at risk and heartache and I’ve had some time to think and reflect and I’m sincerely sorry to all of them for my actions,” he said, making no mention of Charlton or her family. “I stand before you today, you have my word that you won’t see me standing here before you again. I’ve learned my lesson and I want to move on with my life and be a good father for my eight-year-old kid.”

Cortez was also convicted of three breaches of court orders forbidding him from contacting Charlton and sentenced to 21 days jail. He was also charged with an assault on Charlton from April 16, but Crown counsel Michelle Wray ordered a stay of proceedings since the case could not be proven after the woman’s death.

Nothing more was said about Charlton’s death at that hearing in 2018, but between then and now Crown approved charges, and in December 2019 he pleaded guilty.

Cortez’s sentencing hearing is set for 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 31 in provincial court in Chilliwack.

The maximum penalty in the Criminal Code for dangerous driving causing death is 14 years in prison.

– with files from Martha Wickett


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