Halifax police arrest man wanted on countrywide warrant for new attempted-murder trial

Markel Jason Downey leaves Dartmouth provincial court on Dec. 2, 2014. Rebecca Lau/Global News

Nova Scotia RCMP arrested a man on Tuesday who was wanted on a countrywide warrant for a new trial in relation to three charges of attempted murder.

Police say Markel Jason Downey, 22, from Cole Harbour, N.S., was taken into custody during a traffic stop at 11:45 a.m., on Caldwell Road in Cole Harbour.

RCMP told Global News that the traffic stop was unrelated to the search for Downey and that he was reportedly a passenger in the vehicle when it was stopped.

The former boxing champion had a warrant issued for his arrest last month after Nova Scotia’s Court of Appeal ordered a new trial for Downey, who was acquitted in a Cole Harbour home invasion that left Ashley MacLean Kearse paralyzed from the chest down.

READ MORE: Canada-wide warrant issued for Cole Harbour shooting suspect after retrial ordered

Downey was facing 28 charges, including three counts of attempted murder, that stemmed from a break-in at a Cole Harbour home on Nov. 30, 2014.

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Three people were shot, including Kearse, during the incident.

During Downey’s trial, Kearse testified that four masked intruders broke into the home and shot her and two friends. During the trial in February 2017, the court heard that eight to nine bullets were fired.

Downey was acquitted of all 28 charges on Feb. 15, 2017. The Crown appealed the acquittal.

Judge Jamie Saunders of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal said the principal issue at trial was “whether the Crown had proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Downey was the shooter.”

The Crown had appealed on the grounds that the trial judge applied the wrong test to visual and voice recognition evidence submitted during the trial.

WATCH: Canadian boxing star charged for attempted murder

Saunders agreed with the Crown’s assessment saying the judge “ignored highly relevant evidence, and considered irrelevant evidence in his reasoning.”

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“[The judge] separated Ashley MacLean’s evidence from the other evidence, and subjected hers to a criminal standard review instead of asking himself if he were left with a reasonable doubt about [Downey’s] guilt,” he wrote in his decision.

Prior to his arrest, Downey was a championship boxer, often going by the name “Baby Jason.”

Downey won gold in his weight class in the 2011 Canada Winter Games in Halifax at just 15 years old.

Three other people have pleaded guilty in connection with the break-in, but their identities are protected under a publication ban because of their age at the time of the incident.

Downey remains in police custody at this time.

— With files from Graeme Benjamin

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