“You killed him,” Shelly McNabb yelled at the CCTV screen as a judge left a Queen’s Bench courtroom after finding Michael Robertson not guilty in the death of her nephew Rocky Genereaux.
Robertson said he acted in self-defence when Genereaux was stabbed in March 2015.
The pair were in a confrontation over a broken BlackBerry when Robertson testified Genereaux became agitated, claimed to have HIV and lunged at him with a needle. Robertson said he drew a roughly 50-centimetre knife from the lining of his jacket but never swung it.
Robertson was initially charged with second-degree murder but found guilty of manslaughter in 2016.
He was designated a dangerous offender and sentenced to an indeterminate time in prison with no chance of parole for seven years. He appealed both successfully in January 2020.
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.
These inadequate instructions were found to be grounds for a new manslaughter trial, according to a decision from the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal.
The original trial judge “repeatedly provided inconsistent and confusing instructions about the verdict that must flow from a finding that self-defence had not been disproved,” according to the higher court’s decision.
‘I cannot say that I believe Mr. Robertson’
In Friday’s decision, Justice Grant Currie said the Crown proved it’s likely Robertson committed the offence, but “likely” does not meet the threshold for a conviction.
“I cannot say that I believe Mr. Robertson,” Currie said in his written decision.
“Many parts of his description of events – in particular, those most pertinent to the circumstances of the wounding – seem unlikely.”
However, he said the Crown did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Robertson did not act in self-defence, thus the not-guilty judgment.
Four of Genereaux’s family members sobbed and held each other after Currie delivered his decision.
Genereaux’s sister, Prudence Genereaux, said with two trials and Friday’s decision, her family has been through enough.
“My heart breaks for my mom and my nieces and nephews and my brother’s children,” she said. “But we’re going to come out of this strong.”
She said she remembers her brother as someone who was always laughing and smiling.
“(For) his kids, just remember your dad was a good man with a good heart,” she said. “He loved life.”
McNabb said the family hopes to appeal the decision.