Anthony Cortez and Danielle “Deedee” Charlton are seen in these undated Facebook images.

Suspect in fatal crash after robbing jewelry store sentenced in Chilliwack court

Anthony Creed Cortez said he’s learned his lesson and wants to move on with his life

A man who robbed a jewelry store in Nelson, stole a motorcycle in Revelstoke, and allegedly crashed an SUV near Hope killing his passenger was sentenced to time served in Chilliwack provincial court on Monday.

Last September, Anthony Creed Cortez stole $30,000 worth of jewelry in a smash and grab in Nelson, allegedly crashed a stolen SUV killing his companion Danielle Charlton that same day after which he fled in a pickup truck he stole from a good Samaritan.

On Sept. 11, while wearing a blonde wig, Cortez was caught on security camera breaking the front window of Ted Allen’s Jewellery store in Nelson with a hammer then smashing open two display cases. He stuffed approximately $30,000 worth of items in a blue lunch bag and left through the broken window.

Later that day, Cortez crashed a stolen Chevrolet Equinox into a highway maintenance vehicle near Hope killing Charlton. The 35-year-old Charlton was a mother of four and was the subject of a court order forbidding Cortez to be in her presence.

• READ MORE: Aldergrove family remembers victim of fatal crash

At the crash scene, a Good Samaritan driving a Ford F350 stopped to help, but that’s when Cortez stole the pickup and fled the scene.

He has never been charged with the crash that killed Charlton, known as “Deedee” to her family.

On Aug. 27 in Chilliwack provincial court, he was convicted of three breaches of court orders forbidding him from contacting Charlton and sentenced to 21 days jail. Cortez was also charged with an assault on Charlton from April 16, but Crown counsel Michelle Wray ordered a stay of proceedings since Crown could not prove the case after the woman’s death.

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

Nine days after the crash near Hope, Revelstoke RCMP received a call of someone on a stolen motorcycle. Officers attempted to stop the motorcycle driven by Cortez but he fled, traveling 100 km/h in a 60km/h zone, passing vehicles on a double solid line, and flying through a checkpoint on the east end of the Columbia River Bridge.

An officer later found him in the Canyon Hot Springs campground attempting to break into a cabin. The officer attempted to arrest Cortez who attempted to flee but couldn’t start the motorcycle. The Mountie kicked it over, struck Cortez in the torso and a foot chase ensued.

After a physical altercation, he was eventually arrested, having dropped a knife during the fight.

Cortez was charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, possession of stolen property over $5,000, willfully resisting a peace officer and assault of a peace officer for the Sept. 20 incident in Revelstoke. He pleaded guilty to all but the assault.

He also pleaded guilty to three other breaches from being caught with Charlton.

Nelson Crown counsel and Cortez’s lawyer N. Swartz agreed to a joint sentence of nine months in jail for the jewelry store heist.

Chilliwack Crown asked for 12 months jail for the Revelstoke crimes to run consecutive to the nine months from Nelson, less time served and on top of 12 months probation, and a one-year driving prohibition.

Swartz asked for a sentence of seven months and 20 days, essentially the difference between the overall sentence and the time he had already served. Cortez spent 347 days in custody prior to the Aug. 27 sentencing. With the usual 1.5-to-one credit, that amounted to 521 days.

Judge Wendy Young agreed with defence and sentenced Cortez to seven months, meaning he was likely released that day or the next.

After handing down sentence, Cortez addressed the judge. He apologized to the court and 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.”

Some family members including his eight-year-old daughter were in court for the sentencing.

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

– with files from Martha Wickett


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

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