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APPEALS - Grounds - Insufficient reasons - Unreasonable verdict

Monday, January 25, 2021 @ 9:20 AM  

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Appeal by King from his conviction for aggravated assault. Prison surveillance video showed the appellant enter the victim’s cell with another inmate. Shortly thereafter, a large inanimate object flew out of the cell and landed in the hallway. The video then depicted the other inmate seemingly ejected with force from the cell before the appellant left 22 seconds after entering the victim’s cell. The video did not show what occurred in the cell. No injuries were observed on the victim on the day in question. No blood was found on the appellant. A nail wrapped in cloth was located in the appellant’s cell after the alleged incident. Forensic testing was not completed on the weapon. Six days after the alleged incident, the victim showed several stab wounds to a nurse. The victim did not testify or report an assault took place in his cell. The report of the nurse, who did not testify, outlining the injuries observed was admitted.

HELD: Appeal allowed; the appellant was acquitted. Clearly the victim was stabbed, and the video evidence was highly suspicious. However, the gaps in the evidence were insurmountable. The trial judge did not address the six-day gap between the alleged incident and when the injuries were observed on the victim and made no attempt to explain why a stabbing on the alleged date rather than later in the six-day gap was the only reasonable inference that could be drawn. The trial judge’s reasons suffered from fatal flaws in the evaluation and analysis of the evidence that justified reversal. The evidence did not rise to the criminal standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The evidence relied upon for conviction raised reasonable possibilities inconsistent with the appellant’s guilt.

R. v. King, [2020] A.J. No. 1310, Alberta Court of Appeal, J.D.B. McDonald, B.L. Veldhuis and F.L. Schutz JJ.A., December 1, 2020. Digest No. TLD-January252021001