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, June 24, 2010

Not enough evidence for a second degree murder conviction against teen

Crown attorney Ami Kotler had been addressing jurors for over half an hour — telling them why he thought a 19-year-old man should be convicted of second-degree murder in the savage beating death of Spence street resident Audrey Cooper — when he suddenly stopped talking.
“That was 30 seconds,” he said finally, breaking the silence. The accused and three female co-accused “kicked, punched and stomped Audrey Cooper for 20 times that long.”
Cooper, 34, was beaten to death in October 2006 in a random attack outside the Spence Street rooming house where she lived.
A now 16-year old girl has pleaded guilty to manslaughter and two now 18-year-old women have pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for their part in the killing.
The male accused “did not commit the murder himself but he took part in it and he helped,” Kotler told jurors. “I ask you now to hold him accountable as well.”
In a statement to police, the accused admitted punching Cooper once. His 16-year-old co-accused told jurors he did much more. She testified the accused “stomped” Cooper in the head and stomach. After the two older girls stripped Cooper’s clothes off, the accused urinated on her, the girl said.
“Someone who does that to another human being cares nothing for human life,” Kotler said.
Jurors heard Cooper suffered more than 60 distinct injuries, including seven broken ribs, a punctured liver and a severed ear.
A pathologist who conducted the autopsy on Cooper’s body told jurors her injuries were comparable to those suffered by someone thrown from a car.
Defence lawyer Ian Histed argued his client was merely an observer and took no active role in the attack.
“All three (female accused) had blood on them and forensic evidence linking them to the crime,” Histed said. “(My client) did not.”
Histed argued the 16-year-old girl — who admitted throwing the first punch in the attack — lied about his client urinating on Cooper. Court heard there is no method to analyze urine or prove where it came from.
The girl “didn’t want to admit she kicked a woman so hard she lost control of her bladder, so she made up this story about the accused urinating on her,” Histed said.
Jurors will return to court Tuesday when they will receive their final instructions from Justice Holly Beard and begin deliberations.

On this case, I have to say that I do not believe the Crown has proved this teen's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. There is no forensic evidence linking the teen to the crime, as there was with the other teens involved and no evidence to corroborate the witness's story that he urinated on the victim. The accused only admitted to punching the victim once. Even the Crown agrees that he did not commit the murder himself. I think this evidence should not warrant a second degree murder conviction. This teen should be convicted of a lesser charge such as aggravated assault, for punching the victim, but nothing more. He should not receive more than 2 years in prison. 

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