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Supreme Court upholds murder conviction against Calgary man who stabbed girlfriend, filmed her dying

A Calgary man who videotaped his common-law wife with a cellphone as she lay dying from the stab wound he’d given her will not get the chance to fight his murder conviction in Canada’s top court.

The Supreme Court of Canada announced Thursday that it would not hear Travis Marc Martel’s appeal.

Martel was convicted in 2010 of second-degree murder in the death of his common-law wife, Sarah Rae.

Rae died on Aug. 3, 2008, after being stabbed by Martel.

The two went to a bar in Calgary on the night of her death where, according to court documents, Martel “exhibited behaviour consistent with jealousy,” including calling Rae when she went to the washroom to find out where she was.

Later, at their home, Martel stabbed her in the chest with a large knife, wounding her liver as well as arteries and veins crucial to her body’s circulatory system.

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Martel used his cellphone to record her death for more than two minutes. He later erased the video according to court documents, but a forensic examiner recovered it.

The video showed the woman lying on a bed struggling to take her last breaths and moaning. It also included several utterances from Martel, including “Look at the wound you got there,” “Straight to the sternum. Right on,” and “Good that I said I love you.”

At first Martel claimed that he had found Rae already dead when he came from a walk, and only after police recovered the cellphone video did he change his story to say he stabbed her during a struggle after catching her on her phone talking to another man.

The trial judge found that Martel was “a serial and repetitive liar,” rejected Martel’s evidence, and concluded that Martel’s motive was jealousy. The judge concluded Martel intended to kill Rae.

Martel argued that the verdict was unreasonable and that the trial judge erred in characterizing the cellphone video as part of one continuous act that resulted in Rae’s death. He also argued the judge was wrong to infer a motive and in finding that the Crown proved the intent to commit murder beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Court of Appeal of Alberta dismissed Martel’s appeal on April 5, 2011. In its decision, the court found the grounds of appeal to be without merit.

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“Even if the trial judge had erred in any of the ways alleged by the appellant, none of these errors would have affected the outcome or trial fairness,” the decision said.

In terms of the cellphone video, the court agreed with the trial judge that the video’s evidence was consistent with intent.

“We do not find it necessary to decide whether making a video tape of the dying victim whom the appellant has just stabbed constitutes a part of the act of murder or is post offence conduct.”

Martel applied for a leave to appeal with the Supreme Court of Canada on Oct. 18, 2011.

As is its custom for those applications, the Supreme Court did not give a reason for its decision Thursday.

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