‘This is mur­der’

Judge finds Joel Lawrence Clow guilty of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der in 2015 death of Traci Lynch in Pleas­ant Grove

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY RYAN ROSS

A man who killed his girl­friend and hid her body in a wheel­bar­row un­der a tarp at his home in Pleas­ant Grove was found guilty Fri­day of sec­ond­de­gree mur­der.

Joel Lawrence Clow was back be­fore Jus­tice Nancy Key in P.E.I. Supreme Court to hear her ver­dict af­ter a nine-day trial that ad­journed on May 26.

As she de­liv­ered her de­ci­sion, Key said she didn’t ac­cept ev­i­dence that Clow did not have the in­tent to kill Traci Lynch.

“This is not man­slaugh­ter. This is mur­der,” she said.

Be­fore the pro­ceed­ings got un­der­way, a pair of sher­iffs es­corted a shack­led Clow to the pris­on­ers’ box where two walls and a glass di­vider sep­a­rated him from ev­ery­one else in the court­room.

Se­cu­rity was height­ened as two other sher­iffs watched from the pub­lic gallery and more were out­side the court­room where about 50 peo­ple waited to hear the ver­dict.

Be­fore she started read­ing her ver­dict, Key said it was a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to write and would be an even more dif­fi­cult one to read.

“This will be an emo­tional day, how­ever emo­tional out­bursts will not be tol­er­ated,” she said.

Ev­ery­one heeded that warn­ing.

Through­out most of the al­most three hours it took to read the ver­dict, the only sounds in the court­room were Key speak­ing, her clerk typ­ing, an oc­ca­sional cough and the jan­gle of Clow’s hand­cuffs in the pris­on­ers’ box.

Clow ac­knowl­edged his ac­tions in the early hours of July 24, 2015, in Pleas­ant Grove were re­spon­si­ble for Lynch’s death.

An au­topsy found Lynch was badly beaten with in­juries to her face, neck, torso, back and ex­trem­i­ties.

She died of a blunt-force blow to the head and stran­gu­la­tion.

Clow de­nied that he meant to kill Lynch, and that ques­tion of in­tent was one of the is­sues Key had to ad­dress in de­ter­min­ing if the ac­cused was guilty of man­slaugh­ter or mur­der.

In com­ing to the con­clu­sion Clow com­mit­ted mur­der, Key re­viewed 58 ex­hibits from the Crown, four from the de­fence and tes­ti­mony from 25 wit­nesses.

Some of that ev­i­dence dealt with the amount of drugs and al­co­hol Clow con­sumed.

The de­fence ar­gued there was sig­nif­i­cant doubt Clow was able to fore­see that his ac­tions were likely to cause Lynch’s death.

Key found that based on the ev­i­dence, Clow hadn’t con­sumed a large quan­tity of drugs in the 24 hours be­fore the po­lice found him in his home on July 24, 2015.

Al­though Clow had taken some drugs and al­co­hol, he was aware of what he was do­ing, Key said.

With her de­ci­sion that Clow had the in­tent to com­mit mur­der, Key turned her at­ten­tion to the Crown’s ar­gu­ment that he killed Lynch while com­mit­ting un­law­ful con­fine­ment.

Key said there was a lot of un­cer­tainty about what hap­pened the night Lynch died and the Crown didn’t prove be­yond a rea­son­able doubt that it was first-de­gree mur­der.

Along with the mur­der, Clow was also fac­ing sev­eral other charges, in­clud­ing in­de­cent in­ter­fer­ence with hu­man re­mains.

His lawyer en­tered a guilty plea on that charge on his be­half and the Crown stayed two other charges.

Clow will be back in court Oct. 2 for sen­tenc­ing.

The sen­tence for sec­ond­de­gree mur­der is life in prison and Key will have to de­cide on how long Clow will be there be­fore he is el­i­gi­ble for pa­role.

SUBMITTED PHOTO

Joel Lawrence Clow is seen at the Kings County RCMP de­tach­ment af­ter his ar­rest in July 2015.

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