Friday, November 12, 2010

No verdict after first day of jury deliberation

From the Kingston Whig-Standard Online:

By Sue Yanagisawa

The jury on the second-degree murder trial of the man accused of fatally stabbing Amey's Taxi driver David Wayne Krick in June 2007 was sequestered at 8:30 p.m. Thursday without a verdict.

Richard Edmund Smith, 34, has been on trial for the crime over the past five weeks in Kingston's Superior Court of Justice. In that time, the seven women and five men chosen to decide his case have heard testimony from 26 witnesses, including a woman who claims Smith confessed the murder to her a month after it happened.

Yesterday, following 3 1/2 hours of instruction from Justice Douglas Belch on the law and its application -- interrupted by a 30minute break to observe Remembrance Day -- the case was turned over to the jury to decide.

They must now be kept together, apart from all outside influences, until they reach a verdict. Consequently, they were taken from the court house to a hotel for the night by jury constables and will be brought back this morning to resume their deliberations.

In instructing them, Justice Belch told them that while he is the judge of the law, they are the judges of the facts and "as judges of the facts, your first duty is to decide what are the facts in this case."

Belch said "the evidence does not have to answer every question raised in this case." They must determine, however, whether it satisfies them of Smith's guilt or leaves them with a reasonable doubt that would require them to acquit.

The judge also observed that "this is a case that has a lot of circumstantial evidence," and explained what that means using the example of a raincoat and umbrella. If a person looks outside and sees that it's raining, he told them, that would be direct evidence of the weather. But if they see someone come in from outside wearing a raincoat and carrying an umbrella that would be indirect or circumstantial evidence of rain.

"In making your decision," Belch instructed jurors, "both kinds of evidence count. The law treats both equally." He also admonished them to use their common sense and experience in making their assessments.

Belch touched on the very limited contribution science and forensics were able to make in the case presented to jurors and said, "it seems to me, and both counsel have said this, that this case is all about identity."

Copyright © 2010 The Whig Standard

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