Jurors begin deliberations in Cansanay case
A jury has begun deliberating the fate of Jeffrey Cansanay for the October 2005 shotgun death of an innocent teen caught in a violent drug war's line of fire.
Cansanay, 24, stood trial for second-degree murder. Jurors began deliberating late Wednesday afternoon.
Phil Haiart, 17, was walking near a McGee Street crack house when he suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the abdomen.
Jurors heard evidence Cansanay and a then 17-year-old co-accused, Corey Spence, were associates of the African Mafia, a splinter gang of the Mad Cowz, with whom they were engaged in a bitter turf war.
In the days prior to the shooting, the crack house was the scene of mounting violence between the two gangs.
Jurors heard Spence had split from the Mad Cowz to sell drugs on his own. The Crown argued he ordered Cansanay to shoot at rival gangsters Corey Amyotte and Gharib Abdullah as they fled the area on bicycles.
Haiart and another man were caught in the line of fire. Haiart was fatally shot in the stomach, while the second man suffered a wound to his arm.
This is the second time Cansanay has stood trial for killing Haiart. Cansanay was acquitted at his first trial in 2008. Justice Morris Kaufman ruled at the time that videotaped statements given to Winnipeg police by Amyotte, Abdullah and another street gangster Jammal Jacob could not be used at trial.
The gang members refused to testify in person and the Crown's case collapsed. Without their police statements, the Crown had no direct evidence linking Cansanay to the killing.
All three gangsters were later convicted of contempt of court and sentenced to jail terms. Amyotte and Abdullah both testified at Cansanay's second trial.
Spence was convicted of second-degree murder following a trial in 2007 and sentenced as an adult to life in prison. Justice Albert Clearwater ordered that he serve a minimum of seven years in prison before he is eligible for parole.
Jurors weigh evidence in Haiart murder case
Jury deliberations are underway in a high-profile Winnipeg homicide case in which the accused was previously found not guilty of killing an innocent bystander with a stray bullet.
Jeffrey Cansanay is accused of second-degree murder for his alleged role in the October 2005 killing of Winnipeg teen Phil Haiart. The 17-year-old son of a Winnipeg surgeon was walking in the West End when he was caught in the crossfire of a gang shooting.
Jurors have spent the past month hearing evidence and began weighing their verdict Wednesday afternoon. They will remain sequestered until they reach a unanimous decision.
Cansanay, 23, previously went on trial in 2007 but was cleared of any wrongdoing by a judge who refused to allow videotaped police statements of two unco-operative witnesses to be played in court. The Manitoba Court of Appeal later overturned the decision and ordered a new trial, saying the judge had erred in law. The two intended targets of the bullets that hit Haiart were Gharib Abdullah and Cory Amyotte, who gave lengthy video statements in which they blamed Cansanay and his co-accused, Corey Spence. Their street gang, the Mad Cowz, had been waging war on Cansanay and his associates for selling drugs on their "turf" inside a McGee Street home. Their statements were pivotal to the Crown's case because police never recovered the weapon used to shoot Haiart, so no forensic analysis could be done.
However, Abdullah and Amyotte refused to take the witness stand at Cansanay's first trial. The Crown then tried to have their videotaped statements shown to jurors, but Justice Morris Kaufman refused on the grounds it wouldn't be fair to Cansanay to let their words go unchallenged by cross-examination. With no other evidence, the Crown was forced to close its case.
At Spence's trial a few weeks later, the judge agreed with the Crown's motion and jurors watched their videotaped evidence. The 19-year-old was convicted and given life in prison with no chance of parole for at least seven years after being raised from youth court.
Abdullah and Amyotte were cited for contempt of court for their refusal to testify and received precedent-setting prison terms -- four years for Amyotte, three-and-a-half years for Abdullah.
Both men were called to testify when Cansanay's new trial began last month. Abdullah was now co-operative, telling jurors he saw Cansanay open fire on him and Amyotte.
"Shots were going everywhere," he said. "I don't know where they landed," he said.
Cansanay's lawyer, Greg Brodsky, told jurors in closing arguments Wednesday it is dangerous to believe anything Abdullah and Amyotte told police and that his client should be cleared of any wrongdoing.
Jurors deliberate in gang war trial
Jurors have begun deliberating in the second-degree murder trial of a man accused of killing a Winnipeg doctor's son.
Jeff Cansanay is on trial for allegedly killing Phil Haiart, 17, who died of a gunshot wound to the stomach after he was shot near the intersection of Sargent Avenue and Maryland Street on the night of Oct. 10, 2005.
The Crown alleges that Cansanay fired the shots at rival gang members as part of a turf war over the crack cocaine trade in the city's West End.
The trial began on March 18. The jury of five women and seven men began deliberating his fate at 4:40 p.m. CT on Wednesday.
Cansanay, 24, has pleaded not guilty to the killing, along with three counts of attempted murder in connection to the shooting.
If convicted, he faces a life sentence without being eligible for parole for a minimum of 10 years. As a permanent resident who immigrated to Canada from the Philippines in 1994, Cansanay also faces deportation.
He is currently already fighting a deportation order issued after a prior conviction. Those hearings begin again in May.
The Crown's key witness in the killing was Gharib Abdullah, a former member of the Mad Cowz street gang who testified that he saw Cansanay holding a gun prior to the shots being fired that killed Haiart and wounded another man.
The Crown alleges that Abdullah and another man, Corey Amyotte, were the intended targets of the shooting.
Amyotte took the stand during the trial but claimed he wasn't at the scene of the crime, despite telling police otherwise in his statement to them a few days after the incident.
Key witness 'a violent liar'In his closing argument on Thursday, defence lawyer Greg Brodsky urged jurors to dismiss Abdullah's testimony, saying it wasn't credible.
Jurors were told that Abdullah and Amyotte were convicted of contempt of court after they refused to testify at Cansanay's first trial in 2007.
They were acquitted on charges of obstructing justice, but the Crown is appealing that decision.
Abdullah, a parolee, only testified in the current trial to help his case against deportation, Brodsky alleged.
"He told the story that the Crown wants you to hear," Brodsky said, calling Abdullah "a violent liar when it suits him."
"Lying comes easy to these people," the veteran lawyer said.
"Ask yourselves whether there's a firm foundation in this case.
"Ask yourselves whether Gharib Abdullah … is a person you can find that you believe — this time — beyond a reasonable doubt."
Gang war led to Winnipeg killing: Crown
Haiart shooting witness testifies
If I were a juror, I would be acquitting this man. The only evidence the Crown has, is eyewitness testimony from rival gang members! It is extremely dangerous to convict based solely on eyewitness testimony and especially testimony from individuals which are unreliable and should not be trusted.