Jury to decide fate of two North Preston brothers in Tylor McInnis murder trial
The fate of two North Preston brothers lies in the hands of a 12-member jury, sequestered on Thursday at Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax.
Shawntez and Daniel Downey are charged in connection with the 2016 murder of Tylor McInnis, whose body was found in the trunk of a stolen car, abandoned in a North Preston cemetery.
A coroner concluded that McInnis, 26, died of a single gunshot wound, although abrasions were found on his lower back, legs and arms, and he suffered a laceration to his skull.
Shawntez, 27, is charged with second-degree murder and Daniel, 21, is charged as an accomplice after McInnis’s death. Both are charged with forcible confinement and kidnapping in relation to Liam Thompson, who was with McInnis on Aug. 22, 2016.
The jury — six men and six women —received final instructions from the judge on Thursday, including an exact description of what they must know to be true, beyond reasonable doubt, to arrive at a guilty verdict in each charge.
According to Ronald Sock — who cut a deal in exchange for his testimony — a bargain gone badly that night was the catalyst in McInnis’s death. He alleged that McInnis and Thompson went to North Preston to exchange drugs for a gun from Shawntez, but Shawntez decided to rob McInnis instead.
McInnis made a phone call, after which Shawntez struck him with a gun, said Sock. He said McInnis fled, and Shawntez followed, along with Daniel and a handful of other companions.
Sock, by his own admission, told Thompson not to move while he tied him up with a dog leash. He heard a single gunshot in the distance. The events that followed, he alleged, saw Shawntez, Daniel and their companions move McInnis’s body from a ditch to the trunk of Thompson’s car, which was then dropped off at the cemetery.
It’s said that the men tried to clean up the scene by wiping down the car and applying bleach. A bleach container was recovered near the scene, as were bullet casings, and it was reported that McInnis’s body, upon recovery, smelled of bleach.
During that time, Sock alleged, Shawntez fired three gun shots toward Thompson, who remained tied in the car.
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While the Crown argued that much of the physical evidence supported Sock’s version of events, the defence attempted to poke holes in Sock’s credibility, pointing to his lengthy criminal record, self-proclaimed alcoholism, and personal motive for having his testimony perceived as successful.
Shawntez’s lawyer, Eugene Tan, also noted several inconsistencies in Sock’s testimony — he seemed to misplace the cars when asked where they were at the cemetery, for example, and his description of the shots fired toward Thompson don’t seem to match the wound the man sustained.
Both the Crown and defence argued intently over how much Sock could really see that night, given that many of the events occurred after 10 p.m..
The case has been in and out of the courts for more than two years, a drawn-out and painful process for McInnis’s mother.
“Obviously getting to this last stage of the proceedings has been lengthy in itself but obviously it’s nice to get to this final stage,” Crown attorney Erica Koresawa told Global News.
“And I’m sure the family is — I mean they’ve been here almost every day of the trial, they’re certainly showing their interest and support.”
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