Ashley Kearse MacLean, paralyzed in 2014 Cole Harbour shooting, has died
Ashley MacLean Kearse, who was paralyzed from the chest down after being shot during a home invasion in 2014, has died.
Kearse died on Monday night in a Halifax hospital, her mother confirmed to Global News.
An autopsy will be conducted.
She was one of three people who was shot in a home in Cole Harbour on Nov. 30, 2014.
Markel Jason Downey, 22, was facing 28 charges including three counts of attempted murder in connection to the incident that left Kearse paralyzed.
In May, Downey was taken into custody after a warrant was issued for his arrest after the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal ordered a new trial for him.
He had been acquitted on all charges in February 2017 and the Crown had successfully appealed the acquittal.
Wednesday, a spokesperson with the Public Prosecution Service confirmed Downey is scheduled for a retrial in May 2019, and happens to have a court appearance Thursday to set dates.
Chris Hansen said Kearse’s death may have an affect on the trial.
“It’s going to be a challenge but we have no plans at this time to do anything other than continue with the prosecution,” she said.
“With any prosecution… the Crown is continuously assessing its case against the prosecutor’s test.”
Hansen could not speak to whether charges could be upgraded.
“The question of whether there could be a charge is not answerable for a while until further investigation occurs,” she said.
RCMP confirmed with Global News they are aware of Kearse’s death. Spokesperson Cpl. Dal Hutchinson says the investigation into the case continues and investigators are working in conjunction with the Nova Scotia Medical Examiner Service.
Why a new trial was ordered
In the decision to order a new trial, Judge Jamie Saunders of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal said the principal issue at the original 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.
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Saunders agreed with the Crown’s assessment saying the judge “ignored highly relevant evidence, and considered irrelevant evidence in his reasoning.”
“[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.
Crown Attorney James Giacomantonio told Global News during the original trial that the Crown’s case against Downey rested almost entirely on the testimony of Kearse.
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 they were youths at the time of the incident.
Downey remains in police custody at this time.
With files from Natasha Pace and Rebecca Lau
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