Ea­ton Cen­tre shoot­ing con­vic­tion over­turned

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - PAOLA LORIGGIO

A man who was found guilty of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der in a day­time shoot­ing at Toronto’s land­mark Ea­ton Cen­tre mall was granted a new trial Fri­day af­ter a judge found the jury that con­victed him was im­prop­erly se­lected.

The Court of Ap­peal for On­tario over­turned Christo­pher Hus­bands’ con­vic­tions, say­ing the trial judge made an ir­repara­ble mis­take by over­rul­ing a de­fence re­quest re­gard­ing the method of jury se­lec­tion.

As a re­sult, the three-mem­ber ap­peal panel said, the jury was im­prop­erly con­sti­tuted and the ver­dict can­not stand.

“In ac­cor­dance with the cur­rent state of the law ... what oc­curred here can­not be sal­vaged,” Jus­tice David Watt wrote on be­half of the panel.

The June 2012 shoot­ing at the Ea­ton Cen­tre’s crowded food court sparked may­hem in the mall and sent hordes of pan­icked shop­pers run­ning for the ex­its.

Hus­bands’ ap­peal fo­cused largely on the man­ner in which jurors were cho­sen.

As part of the se­lec­tion process, prospec­tive jurors may be ques­tioned as to whether they be­lieve they can re­main im­par­tial. Two peo­ple from the jury pool take on the role of “tri­ers,” mean­ing they weigh the an­swer and de­ter­mine whether there is sign of bias.

Lawyers for both the Crown and the de­fence then de­cide whether to al­low the per­son on the jury.

Each newly ap­pointed ju­ror re­places one of the two tri­ers so that the re­spon­si­bil­ity is shared, a process called “ro­tat­ing tri­ers.”

At the re­quest of the ac­cused, the court can ap­point two peo­ple who will as­sess all the prospec­tive ju­ror re­sponses. Th­ese are called “static tri­ers” and do not get to serve on the jury.

Watt said Hus­bands’ lawyers made it clear they wanted ro­tat­ing tri­ers but the judge, Su­pe­rior Court Jus­tice Eu­gene Ewaschuk, im­posed static tri­ers.

At least one other case presided over by Ewaschuk has seen its ver­dict over­turned on ap­peal over the same is­sue.

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