Welcome to my Crime and Justice blog! I am a 19 year old criminal justice student at the University of Winnipeg. I advocate for prisoners' rights, human rights, equality and criminal justice/prison system reforms.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Judge's charge to the jury in the Cory Bushie second degree murder trial

This morning, I attended the second degree murder trial of Cory Bushie, where the Judge was giving her charge to the jury. The jury will begin deliberations later today.

The key principles in our justice system are; innocent until proven guilty and the Crown must prove the accused's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, in order for the jury to convict. 

The Judge reminded the jury that the charge of second degree murder, is not proof of Bushie's guilt and is not evidence whatsoever. 

The criteria that must be met in order to convict of second degree murder are; The jury must be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Bushie's actions caused the death of the victim, that the death was unlawful, and Bushie's state of mind (intent to kill or cause bodily harm knowing it would likely result in death). 

It is certain that the victim was fatally shot. 

The Crown's case is based largely on the eyewitness accounts of two women, Beatrice Yellowback and Mirilia Martens, who were with Bushie on the night of the shooting. 

Yellowback testified previously that she had been at a party on Pritchard Avenue with Martens and Bushie. She admitted to drinking a significant amount of beer with Martens and noted that everyone at the party appeared to be drinking as well but she was unsure as to how much Bushie drank. The group then went to the crack house on Magnus Avenue. Yellowback got into an altercation with another woman there and was asked to leave the house. She left with Martens and Bushie and went to the back lane. The victim was also present. Yellowback said she saw Martens and the victim (Aaron Nabess) arguing and he hit Martens. Bushie stepped in and told Nabess not to hit girls. Yellowback then testified that she saw Bushie pull out what appeared to be a gun from his pants, and she heard two shots. She said it was too dark outside to clearly see the faces of what she thought, were Nabess and Bushie.  She later identified Bushie in a police photo line-up and commented, "That's Cory." She estimated that she had drank 14-20 beers that night but denied being too drunk to see things clearly. She said that nobody else besides her group, were in the back lane.

Martens was with Yellowback and Bushie. She too, was drinking at the party on Pritchard. She initially also told police that Bushie had been "all drunk and stupid." She denies saying that now and has no memory of that statement. She admitted to being drunk but also said that she knew what she was doing and what was happening around her. After being asked to leave the Magnus home, she went into the backlane. She said that Nabess put his hand on her shoulder and she pushed him away. She witnessed Bushie and Nabess arguing and then she started walking backwards away from the two until she was about 4 houses away from them. She claims that Bushie took out a gun and shot Nabess. She also indentified Bushie in a photo line-up, commenting, "He shot Nabess.

If the jury is satisfied of the first two criterion for second degree murder, but not the third (the intent), then they must find Bushie guilty of manslaughter. Manslaughter is the unlawful killing WITHOUT intent. 

I believe that Bushie is not guilty of second degree murder, because I don't think the Crown has proven beyond a reasonable doubt, that he had the intent to kill Nabess. Bushie was likely intoxicated as well and also, may have been provoked by Nabess. I believe that Bushie did shoot Nabess unlawfully, but that he did NOT have the state of mind required to be convicted of second degree murder. I feel that he should be convicted of manslaughter for the possibility of provocation and intoxication. 

If convicted of manslaughter, I would suggest a prison sentence of between 3-5 years, simply because it was a serious crime committed. I would also suggest drug/alcohol treatment, anger management programs and employment assistance.   

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