Text messages reveal clues about deadly hit-and-run

Text messages reveal clues about deadly hit-and-run »Play Video
Kalista Andino (standing with dark hair) appears in Clark County Court Monday morning. (Photo by Valerie Hurst, KATU News)

VANCOUVER, Wash. – Two women charged with witness tampering in connection with a fatal hit-and-run in Vancouver appeared in court Monday morning.

Court documents obtained by KATU also reveal two people close to the suspect's girlfriend are providing key details about the investigation.

One of those people provided KATU with dozens of text messages she claims were sent to and received from Kalista Andino after the incident.

During Monday's hearing, prosecutors named the suspected driver of the truck that hit and killed two women. Brandon Smith of Vancouver has not been arrested or charged with a crime.

Linda D. Smith, 63, and Kalista Andino, 21, were arrested on witness tampering charges on Friday. Prosecutors said Brandon Smith is Linda Smith's son and Andino's boyfriend. Brandon Smith and Andino have a 5-month-old son together, prosecutors said.

"There is an overwhelming amount of stonewalling," said Sgt. Troy Price, head of the Vancouver Police Department's Major Crimes Unit. "People are trying to make sure witnesses do not cooperate with police. They are trying to taint what witnesses say; they are actively working against us."

The crash killed Irina Gardinant, 28, and Raisa Mosh, 45. The two were hit in a crosswalk on N.E. Vancouver Mall Dr. on Jan. 19 by a white truck. Mosh's 12-year-old son suffered minor injures.

Prosecutors said Andino was a passenger in the truck during the crash. They also claimed Linda Smith inserted herself into the investigation by calling witnesses and telling them not to talk with police.

"Some people had honor and felt it was unreasonable that they shouldn't talk to police," said Sgt. Price.

Court documents said Andino told her cousin about the crash after it happened. Andino told her cousin it was "very dark and foggy" during the crash, they didn't see anyone and they did not know what they hit, according to court documents.

Andino's bail was set at $30,000. She is expected to appear in court Feb. 7 for her arraignment.

According to court documents, Linda D. Smith yelled at Andino's cousin and a friend of Andino, who is a witness in the investigation, during phone conversations and told them both not to talk to police.

KATU tracked down that friend, who was a classmate of Andino's in her medical assistant program. KATU agreed to protect her identity. She says she drove Andino to and from class since October.

The friend shared a string of text messages she says Andino sent her in the days following the crash.

A KATU reporter inspected the phone and observed the entire chain of iPhone text messages between the friend named in court documents and the contact listed as Kalista Andino in the phone.

On Jan. 22, the friend showed us a text message she says she sent to Kalista, saying she saw the white truck she believed to be Brandon's on the news.

The other person, believed to be Kalista, responded, "Yeah it was his truck. And I'm freaking the **** out."

The friend showed us additional messages she says Kalista sent her, including:

"No one is hiding anything."

"The cops had Brandon in their custody and they released him."

"Detectives get to you? They are going to like everybody we know!"

The friend told us detectives encouraged her to reach out to Kalista again and persuade her to contact police.

Vancouver police confirm officers did detain Brandon Smith for questioning, but released him because he refused to cooperate or answer questions.

After she sent Kalista a text message, she says she received a phone call from Linda Smith, Brandon Smith's mother. Court documents also support this claim.

"She was screaming. She was really angry," said the friend. "She said don't listen to police. Don't talk to police."

Linda D. Smith's bail was set at $50,000 and she is also expected to appear in court for her arraignment Feb. 7.

No one answered the door at Linda Smith's house or Kalista Andino's apartment. They also did not return several phone calls.

Sgt. Price says he is waiting on the state crime lab to process evidence collected from the truck.

"The crime lab could send results any moment. When that happens, I expect we'll be able to arrest a suspect within a couple of days."

KATU's Valerie Hurst contributed to this story.