Vetting of jury not abuse of process

Ontario criminal | Appeal

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Vetting of jury not abuse of process

Appeal by accused from his conviction for first degree murder. Crown’s case was based on circumstantial evidence and trial judge made this absolutely clear to jury. Accused and deceased were neighbours. Deceased’s wife and accused were involved in intimate relationship. Wife refused to leave deceased. On evening that deceased was killed he was alone in his cottage. Accused knew this and he also knew that wife was spending night elsewhere. He had key to deceased’s cottage and he knew its layout. He was well-known to family dog and there were no signs of forced entry. Deceased was killed in his bed. Cause of death was blunt force trauma, which was consistent with blow to head from baseball bat. Week before deceased was killed accused had baseball bat. Baseball bat with deceased’s blood was found in area where police officers saw accused two days after murder. Accused claimed that police acted improperly by vetting members of jury pool for criminal records and for outstanding criminal charges. Crown counsel at trial did not request these checks, knew nothing about them and saw no results. Appeal dismissed. Conviction was reasonable. Cumulative effect of circumstantial evidence was such that properly instructed jury could reasonably have found that accused unlawfully killed deceased, that unlawful killing was murder and that murder was planned and deliberate. Vetting of jury was not abuse of process. Checks had no impact on fairness of trial. For jury selection playing field remained level.
R. v. Uhrig (July 3, 2012, Ont. C.A., Rouleau, Watt and Pepall JJ.A., File No. C48468) 102 W.C.B. (2d) 18 (6 pp.).

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