Ap­peal court or­ders a new trial into stab­bing death of 36-year-old Stoney Creek woman

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - CARMELA FRAGOMENI cfragomeni@thes­pec.com 905-526-3392 | @Car­matTheSpec

The Court of Ap­peal has over­turned the man­slaugh­ter con­vic­tion of Haiden Suarez Noa, giv­ing the f am­ily of his vic­tim, Tania Cow­ell, new hope for the jus­tice they feel they were de­nied.

The panel of three judges that heard the ap­peal last month re­leased its de­ci­sion Fri­day and or­dered a new trial on a se­cond-de­gree mur­der charge.

Suarez Noa at his 2015 trial ad­mit­ted to stab­bing Cow­ell, his part­ner and the mother of his then five-month-old son, in their Stoney Creek apart­ment in March 2013.

He said he “lost it” when she threat­ened to leave him and keep their son from him.

He was charged with se­cond-de­gree mur­der, but a jury found him guilty of the lesser crime of man­slaugh­ter, which shocked her fam­ily and lo­cal women’s groups.

“We are so happy that some­body fi­nally saw how wrong this is,” Cow­ell’s sis­ter-in-law, Julie Cow­ell, said Fri­day.

“Tania has no voice now. I will never see this as man­slaugh­ter. I’ve al­ways had a pit in my stom­ach on how could this (man­slaugh­ter find­ing) hap­pen.” Julie and her hus­band, Ivon, are the le­gal guardians of Tania and Suarez Noa’s son, Bailun, and are rais­ing him as their own.

In the ap­peal, the Crown ar­gued the trial judge erred in al­low­ing Suarez Noa’s lawyer to present tes­ti­mony from foren­sic psy­chi­a­trist Dr. Ju­lian Go­jer and by al­low­ing Suarez Noa to use the de­fence of provo­ca­tion.

Both al­lowances were stick­ing points for Cow­ell’s fam­ily and friends.

The Hamil­ton Woman Abuse Work­ing Group — a coali­tion of 20 Hamil­ton agen­cies that showed up at Suarez Noa’s sen­tenc­ing — gave an un­prece­dented vic­tim i mpact state­ment un­der a new mea­sure that rec­og­nizes the ef­fects of crime can be far-reach­ing and cause harm or loss to a com­mu­nity as a whole. Natasha Dobler, a mem­ber of the group, said then that mem­bers were “hor­ri­fied and in­fu­ri­ated” at the mes­sage be­ing sent to abusers that “they could lit­er­ally get away with mur­der.”

Julie Cow­ell said Fri­day the over­turned con­vic­tion now of­fers hope to all women. “We’ve got to get the prece­dent right. Let’s give him the true con­vic­tion he de­serves.”

The trial heard Cow­ell, 36, was stabbed 11 times, but Suarez Noa, then 35, only re­mem­bered stab­bing her twice. Suarez Noa was sen­tenced to 11 years in prison.

The Court of Ap­peal found that “sig­nif­i­cant parts of Dr. Go­jer’s ev­i­dence were in­ad­mis­si­ble… (and) may very well have af­fected the out­come at trial.”

In par­tic­u­lar, the ex­pert’s opin­ion that provo­ca­tion could have trig­gered Suarez Noa’s “sud­den out­burst of in­tense emo­tions” that led to an “im­pul­sive act” didn’t fall into the realm of ad­mis­si­bil­ity.

But the Ap­peal Court re­jected the part of the ar­gu­ment that the trial judge erred in al­low­ing Suarez Noa’s own provo­ca­tion de­fence.

“It was for the jury to de­cide whether to give ef­fect to that de­fence hav­ing re­gard to the en­tirety of the ev­i­dence.”

Tania Cow­ell was stabbed 11 times.

Haiden Suarez Noa told court he’d “lost it.”

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