Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Jury deliberations begin in teen's second degree murder trial
Audrey Cooper was brutally beaten to death by a group of teenagers roaming through Winnipeg’s core looking for random victims to attack.
Three young girls have already admitted to their roles in her October 2006 slaying, which police called one of the worst in the city’s recent history. Now the fourth, and final, accused is about to learn his fate.
Jury deliberations began Tuesday afternoon for the 19-year-old man, who can’t be named because he was only 15 at the time. He pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder when his trial began earlier this month.
Crown attorney Ami Kotler told jurors in closing arguments last week they should have no trouble finding him guilty of second-degree murder. The accused admitted to police he "punched" Cooper, while other witnesses have described him as also joining in on the kicking and stomping of the unconscious woman.
Cooper, 34, suffered 64 separate injuries in the unprovoked attack, which came after she refused the teen’s requests for a cigarette. They included seven broken ribs, a lacerated liver, swelling that shut both of her eyes and bleeding on the brain. She was also stripped naked and left to die.
The most damning evidence came from the youngest killer, who was just 12 at the time and testified last week how the man on trial urinated on Cooper’s body before fleeing the scene. Kotler said the fact police found a pool of urine at the crime scene proves the girl is telling the truth.
However, defence lawyer Ian Histed has accused the Crown’s key witness of exaggerating his client’s involvement in order to escape prosecution on more serious charges. She denied the suggestion while being cross-examined. The girl signed a deal with justice officials to testify in exchange for her second-degree murder charge being dropped to manslaughter. She then pleaded guilty and got the maximum youth sentence of two years custody and one year of community supervision.
The two other girls, who were 14 at the time, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and were given the maximum youth sentence of four years of custody and three years of community supervision.
I believe that their is a reasonable doubt as to this man's guilt on the second degree murder charge. I do not believe he intentionally and deliberately participated in the killing of the female victim. As his defence lawyer previously stated, all three other accused had blood on them and forensic evidence linking them to the crime but the male accused did not. He may have been merely an observer but took no active role in the attack. The accused only admitted to punching the victim once, to police. That should not warrant a second degree murder conviction, but instead one of aggravated assault. Even the Crown agrees that he himself, did not commit the murder. This teen should receive no more than 2 years in prison. I would also like to know more about this teen's background life and mitigating factors. I believe that the key witness could be falsely implicating the accused so she could escape more severe prosecution. I think she exaggerated the accused's involvement to get a better deal for herself. The defence lawyer said that when she got arrested, she didn't tell police a thing. But 2 years later, she knew there couldn't be a deal unless she gave a statement. I also think she was too intoxicated to remember her own involvement in the death, let alone the male accused's.
I think that this male accused should be found not guilty of second degree murder, but guilty of either manslaughter or aggravated assault, because he did admit to punching the victim, which could have contributed to her injuries and death.