Gerald Stanley's fate is now in the hands of 12 strangers.
The jury retired late this afternoon to consider its verdict at Stanley's trial, which has been running since Jan. 29 at Battleford's Court of Queen's Bench. Stanley pleaded not guilty to a charge of second-degree murder in connection with the shooting of Colten Boushie, which occurred in Stanley's farmyard Aug. 9, 2016.
During closing arguments, which were heard this morning, defence lawyer Scott Spencer said the shooting was a tragic accident caused by a misfire. In contrast, Crown prosecutor William Burge said the shooting was either intentional, or was caused by Stanley’s careless handling of a loaded firearm.
In his detailed and lengthy instructions to the jury, Chief Justice Martel Popescul ordered them to set aside passion, sympathy and prejudice, and base their discussions entirely on the evidence presented during the trial. Public opinion, media reports and other outside information must not factor into their discussions or verdict, he said.
“It is not disputed that Mr. Stanley caused the death of Mr. Boushie,” the judge said, but noted that “it is not always a crime to cause another person’s death.”
Popescul said Stanley can only be found guilty of murder if the jury finds he caused the young man’s death through an illegal act, and that he intended to kill Boushie or intended to cause bodily harm while being reckless with Boushie’s life. Should the jury conclude Stanley caused Boushie’s death through an unlawful act but did not have the intent required for murder, the judge said the jury must find him guilty of manslaughter.
If the jury does find Stanley was careless with his pistol, Popescul said they must consider whether the carelessness was illegal or if the circumstances presented him with a lawful excuse.
“You must decide the issue of carelessness,” the judge said. “Should Mr. Stanley have taken more care to ensure the gun was not pointed at or in the direction of Mr. Boushie?”
Throughout his instructions, Popescul emphasized that Stanley does not have a responsibility to prove his innocence, or anything else. The Crown must prove Stanley’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in order for the jury to convict, he said.
The jury will consider its decision for as long as necessary before reaching a verdict. paNOW will keep you updated, and you can follow along on Twitter for up-to-the-minute developments.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been closed to commenting because the matter is still before the court.
On Twitter: @TaylorMacP
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