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Evidence - Documentary evidence - Photographs and video recordings - Methods of proof - Identification - Opinion evidence - Expert evidence - Criteria for admissibility

Thursday, January 19, 2017 @ 7:00 PM  

Appeal by the accused, Apetrea, from convictions for nine offences related to four robberies. Two masked individuals committed four robberies in a three-week period within a defined geographic area. The trial judge found sufficient similarities in the execution of each robbery to conclude the same two perpetrators were involved. The accused was arrested sleeping in an SUV containing cigarettes and lottery tickets taken in the robberies. The accused testified that he was loaned the SUV by a stranger. He acknowledged he was depicted on security video cashing stolen lottery tickets, but stated he was given the tickets as payment for drugs. At the time of the accused’s arrest, police seized clothing that matched the perpetrators’ clothing as depicted in security video. The Crown qualified an expert in forensic video analysis who testified about the accuracy of the events depicted on video in order to compare the items seized with the items depicted. The trial judge reviewed the videotaped evidence, rejected the accused’s testimony on credibility grounds, and entered convictions. The accused appealed.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The trial judge sufficiently assessed the necessity of the expert evidence in ruling on its admissibility. It was not a clear case in which a witness’s partiality justified exclusion of their evidence. There was no prejudice associated with the expert’s evidence. Even if the expert exceeded her expertise, her testimony that the articles seized could not be ruled out as the articles depicted in the video was not strong probative evidence. The trial judge reviewed the videotaped evidence, drew his own conclusions, and did not attribute weight to the expert’s comparison. The trial judge’s conclusions were based on unchangeable markings on the clothing and the rational explanation that the accused was in possession of the stolen SUV and related property. The trial judge did not misapprehend the facts of the accused’s testimony in a manner that materially affected the credibility analysis.