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.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Witness testimony in murder trial, doesn't match evidence: Defence

THE lawyer for a Winnipeg man on trial for a deadly shooting said there isn't enough evidence to convict his client -- despite two Crown witnesses who claim they saw him pull the trigger.
Cory Bushie has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder for the July 2007 killing of 20-year-old Aaron Nabess in a lane behind a known crack house at 575 Magnus Ave. Jury deliberations will begin Thursday.
Defence lawyer Danny Gunn wrapped up the two-week trial Monday by telling jurors the real killer wasn't put on trial.
"I can't tell you who did it. I wish I could," said Gunn. "But this case can't possibly be one with proof beyond a reasonable doubt." He said there were plenty of other people with opportunity and motive to kill Nabess, a known drug dealer. Gunn suggested the eyewitness testimony from two women who say they watched Bushie shoot Nabess is flawed and may have been an attempt to cover up the truth.
However, the Crown told jurors there should be no doubt about Bushie's guilt.
They noted the testimony of Marilia Martins, who broke down in tears last week while describing how Nabess and Bushie got into a dispute that ended with gunfire while she and a friend stood nearby.
The four had just left the North End home, where a party was going on inside.
"Aaron told Cory 'I can get my boys' and Cory said '(Expletive) your boys'," said Martins. "Then Cory pulled out the gun. He shot him." Bushie fled, while a fatally wounded Nabess staggered away from the scene before collapsing.
She and her friend ran to another home and never called 911.

Jurors were urged Monday to acquit a man accused of fatally shooting another man outside an inner city crack house.
Witness testimony suggesting Cory Bushie killed 20-year-old Aaron Nabess doesn’t stand up against the physical evidence, said Bushie’s lawyer Danny Gunn.
Jurors have heard Bushie, charged with second-degree murder, and Nabess arrived at the Magnus Avenue crack house in the company of two women and spent a short time inside before moving to the back lane.
The Crown’s case relies largely on the testimony of the two women.
One of the women testified she heard the two men arguing before Bushie pulled a gun from his waistband and Nabess was shot.
A pathologist testified Nabess was shot four times.
A blood trail started several houses away from where the woman said Nabess was shot, Gunn said.
“This can’t have occurred in the manner described,” Gunn said.
Gunn said the trajectory of the bullets also does not support the women’s testimony.
“I can’t tell you who did it,” Gunn said. “I wish I could.”
Crown attorney Steve Johnston dismissed the suggestion of another shooter as “fanciful speculation that should not raise a reasonable doubt.” Jurors are expected to begin deliberations after receiving their final instructions from Justice Doug Abra on Thursday.

This suggestion put forward by defence is interesting. The Crown's case relies almost completely on two witness testimonies. Relying solely on witness testimony can lead to a wrongful conviction. Under stressful situations, witnesses may not truly see everything or what they claim to have seen. It can be dangerous to convict an individual based solely on witness identification. If I were the jurors, I would seriously consider this suggestion. Yes, the woman had no motive to lie about who she saw pull the trigger, but I have seen witnesses who are very confident in their testimonies, turn out to later be mistaken about what they claimed to have seen. 

In this case, there is physical evidence against Bushie, such as DNA, murder weapon, etc. Just two eyewitnesses. 

Personally, I still think we need to abolish the mandatory life sentence and parole eligibility for murder. Every offender and every crime are unique and different, yet we assume that by treating them all the same, by giving the same sentence, will solve everything. Unfortunately, by treating all murderers equally, leads to inequalities as mandatory minimum sentences severely limit judicial discretion in considering all circumstances of each individual case (mitigating and aggravating) and deciding upon a sanction which they feel is approproate and just. This cannot happen, if we continue to use mandatory minimum sentences. Plus, it leads to more people pleading not guilty, as they don't want to face a mandatory prison sentence. This means more trials and more clogging of the courts and more expenses.  

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