Kick to man’s ab­domen may not have been fa­tal: lawyer

Edmonton Journal - - CITY - PAIGE PAR­SONS ppar­sons@post­media.com twit­ter.com/paigeepar­sons

An Ed­mon­ton se­cu­rity guard doesn’t dis­pute that he kicked a man who died of ab­dom­i­nal trauma, but his lawyer ar­gued Wed­nes­day ev­i­dence at trial doesn’t prove that the kick was the fa­tal blow.

The as­ser­tion was made dur­ing clos­ing ar­gu­ments at a trial for Shel­don Rus­sell Bent­ley, 37, who is ac­cused of man­slaugh­ter and rob­bery in the July 2016 death of Don­ald Doucette, 51.

Crown prose­cu­tor Kris­ten Lo­gan ar­gued that wit­ness ac­counts and video ev­i­dence prove Doucette, who was bat­tling an al­co­hol ad­dic­tion, was asleep in an al­ley be­hind an inner-city strip mall when he was ap­proached by a se­cu­rity guard, who tried un­suc­cess­fully to wake him.

That guard called his part­ner, Bent­ley, for help, and was on the phone when Bent­ley took a $20 bill out of Doucette’s hand, then stomped on the man’s ab­domen.

The two guards then es­corted Doucette to a nearby em­bank­ment, where he later died de­spite ef­forts by emer­gency re­spon­ders to save him.

Lo­gan said Wed­nes­day the ev­i­dence points to Bent­ley’s kick as be­ing the “sole and sig­nif­i­cant con­tribut­ing fac­tor” in Doucette’s death.

“Stomp­ing on an un­con­scious per­son’s stom­ach shows the risk here of bod­ily harm was ob­jec­tively fore­see­able,” Lo­gan said.

De­fence lawyer Amanda Hart-Dowhun did not call any ev­i­dence at trial, and opened her clos­ing ar­gu­ments by say­ing she would not at­tempt to “jus­tify or de­fend” her client’s be­hav­iour on the day he as­saulted Doucette.

In an in­ter­view with po­lice, Bent­ley ad­mit­ted he’d kicked Doucette fairly hard, but he re­called it be­ing in the man’s side — not in the cen­tre of the stom­ach, which is where a medical ex­am­iner de­ter­mined the fa­tal in­jury was lo­cated.

Bent­ley also ad­mit­ted to tak­ing $20 from the man.

Hart-Dowhun said her client’s rec­ol­lec­tion of the lo­ca­tion of the kick should be trusted be­cause he was can­did about many as­pects of the events that were un­favourable to him.

Hart-Dowhun said that on the day of his death, Doucette was alone in a rough neigh­bour­hood where a lot of vi­o­lence oc­curs, and that the fa­tal blow could have come from an­other source and oc­curred be­fore or af­ter Bent­ley kicked him.

Doucette’s daugh­ter, who sat in court dur­ing the trial, has de­scribed her fa­ther as an up­beat, jovial man who had sought treat­ment for his al­co­hol ad­dic­tion just days be­fore his death.

Court of Queen’s Jus­tice Paul Belzil has re­served his ver­dict in the case and said he ex­pects to de­liver it Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

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