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New manslaughter trial ordered in Saskatoon stabbing death of Rocky Genereaux

Saskatchewan’s Court of Appeal determined the judge made errors when instructing jurors during Michael Robertson's 2015 trial in Saskatoon. Saskatoon Police Service / Supplied

A judge’s inadequate instructions to a Saskatoon jury in 2015 are grounds for a new manslaughter trial, according to a decision from the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal.

Michael Robertson was charged with second-degree murder for the stabbing death of Rocky Genereaux. Robertson was acquitted of murder but convicted of manslaughter in June 2016.

READ MORE: Michael Robertson guilty of manslaughter in stabbing death of Rocky Genereaux

Robertson testified he acted in self-defence after Genereaux became agitated, claimed to have HIV and lunged at him with a needle. The pair were in a confrontation over a broken BlackBerry device.

In the appeal, Robertson’s lawyer argued the judge misdirected the jury by failing to explain how it should respond if the Crown couldn’t disprove self-defence.

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The judge “repeatedly provided inconsistent and confusing instructions about the verdict that must flow from a finding that self-defence had not been disproved,” reads the higher court’s decision.

If Robertson acted in lawful self-defence, he should have been acquitted of manslaughter as well as murder, according to the appellate judges.

Jurors did not receive a written copy of the judge’s instructions.

“In this case, the misdirection that resulted from the trial judge’s misstatements on the issue of self-defence was potentially significant,” the decision reads.

READ MORE: Michael Robertson declared dangerous offender

The trial concluded on a Wednesday afternoon and by the following morning, jurors stated they were at an impasse. Encouraged to “re-apply themselves,” the jury reached a unanimous verdict nearly three hours later.

Because Robertson was acquitted of second-degree murder, his new trial will only be for manslaughter.

He remains in custody and no trial dates have been set.

-With files from Dave Giles and Joel Senick.

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