Saturday, May 29, 2010
Judge shuts down gang trial where four men accused of prison death
A Manitoba judge pulled the plug on a high-profile gang murder trial just as it was ending -- but the public will not be allowed to know why jurors were sent packing after hearing two weeks of evidence.
Queen's Bench Justice Don Bryk declared a mistrial this week in the case of four men charged with beating a fellow inmate to death inside Stony Mountain prison.
Bryk issued a sweeping publication ban preventing any details on the surprising development, including his reasons, from being published.
The decision was made in a closed courtroom Thursday afternoon.
David Tavares, 40, died of trauma in March 2005 after being attacked in a prison recreation room.
RCMP spent more than two years investigating the case before laying charges. The jury trial began earlier this month and was hearing from its final witness -- with closing arguments expected early next week -- when it suddenly fell apart.
Defence lawyer Martin Glazer said several of the accused may apply for bail. A new trial date would likely not be available until 2011 at the earliest.
Victor Ryle is accused of ordering the deadly attack and has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter.
Alvin Cote, Charles Coaster and Evan Myran allegedly carried out the beating and are charged with second-degree murder.
The Crown's key witness had been in the witness box since Tuesday, testifying how Tavares was only supposed to be taught a lesson, not beaten to death.
Steven Courchene admitted to standing by and watching the fatal attack unfold and told jurors the "timed beating" quickly got out of control. Courchene, 32, was granted immunity by Manitoba justice officials in exchange for his testimony.
I just attended this trial last Wednesday for Steven Courchene's testimony and I find it very interesting that the Judge suddenly declared it a mistrial. I wonder what went wrong..