WATCH BELOW: 2018 coverage of the Reno Lee killing and dismemberment trial
Day 2 of appeal hearing for men convicted in Reno Lee killing, dismemberment
On the second and final day of the appeal hearing for the three men convicted in the death of 34-year-old Reno Lee, the lawyer for one of them argued the possibility that on the night of the killing, plans had changed and his client may not have known about the murder.
As a result, Christopher Funt, who is representing Bronson Gordon, said the judge failed to properly present the option of manslaughter to the jury.
“Whenever groups of people get together to do things together, one possibility is they share all information and the other possibility is that they operate on a need-to-know basis,” Funt said over videoconferencing at the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal on Tuesday.
Gordon, Daniel Theodore and Andrew Bellegard were given life sentences in 2018 after they were convicted of the first-degree murder of Lee following a 2018 trial.
During the trial, the jury heard Lee was kidnapped and shot in the head in Regina in 2015 before being dismembered and buried on the Star Blanket First Nation, northeast of the city.
Theodore and Bellegarde were also found guilty of indignity to a body.
Funt argued Tuesday that Gordon could have known about the kidnapping and not the murder, but that the jury was only given the option to convict Gordon of manslaughter, if they had any doubt he orchestrated the killing in any way, leaving no room for the possibility that Gordon participated in the kidnapping without any knowledge of the shooting.
But the lawyer for the Crown, Dean Sinclair, argued the case against Gordon was compelling and overwhelming.
“The theory of the Crown’s case and evidence supports the notion that Gordon was one of the directing minds — if not the directing mind — of the operation,” Sinclair said, adding the jury could have convicted Gordon of manslaughter if there was reasonable doubt.
Funt also argued that the judge’s instructions to the jury were lengthy and the court didn’t estimate the proper time it would take to go through the case.
While Sinclair did admit the charge could have been shortened, he said there was nothing that was unhelpful, erroneous or irrelevant. No complaints were raised during the trial, he added.
The lawyers for Theodore and Bellegarde laid out their appeals on Monday.
Murphy argued that because the Crown theorized they all worked together, there is no way to say if Theodore got a fair trial if the other two did not.
Sinclair rebutted there is no evidence the jurors were biased and that none of the men raised concerns about the ones who were sworn in.
Bellegarde’s lawyer, Brian Pfefferle, said the trial judge’s instructions were confusing.
While Sinclair argued that had no merit on Monday, Funt reiterated on Gordon’s behalf on Tuesday that the instructions were lengthy and rushed.
The court is reserving decision until a later date.
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