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2nd-degree Winnipeg murder trial comes to an end

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The fate of the man accused of fatally stabbing a Winnipeg lawyer will soon be in the hands of a jury. Joe Scarpelli reports – Nov 22, 2021

Warning: This story contains language that may offend some readers. 

The fate of the man accused of fatally stabbing a Winnipeg lawyer will soon be in the hands of a jury.

Lawyers for the accused call it a case of self-defence, but the crown argues it was anything but.

Justin Silicz, 32, was killed in June 2019 while walking to his car from a nightclub with some friends.

Keishawn Mitchell, charged with second-degree murder, admits to ‘poking’ Silicz twice but testified last week that he was just trying to protect himself.

He said after a night of drinking and smoking cannabis he crossed paths with Silicz, Andrea Bosnjak and Tony Hazjler.

One of his friends asked for a cigarette, when Bosnjak asked to hear a joke first.

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“I said, ‘Your ass,'” the 21-tear-old testified. “I was trying to be funny.”

Read more: Fight over cigarette led to fatal stabbing of Winnipeg lawyer, court hears

But Hazjler didn’t find it funny, according to Mitchell.

“He said, like, ‘Three dudes and no girls, you guys must be faggots,'” Mitchell said.

The two of them then began ‘chirping’ each other, when Mitchell said he punched Hazjler in the face out of fear he was going to get punched first.

“Basically if I don’t hit him, then he’s going to hit me,” Mitchell told court.

However, Hazjler hit back and then Silicz jumped in, Mitchell said.

“These two big guys were coming at me so I kind of panicked and I just pulled it (a pocket knife) out to defend myself,” Mitchell said.

“I gave Justin two pokes with it.”

Mitchell said he then thought the fight was over and he walked away, and was later shocked to find out that Silicz had died.

“I feel regretful and hopefully his family can forgive me,” Mitchell said.

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During opening remarks, Mitchell’s lawyer, Mike Cook, told the jury he wanted the jury to decide if his client acted in self-defence, or if he was too intoxicated to form intent to commit murder.

“He was outnumbered, he was outmuscled and what he did was an act of desperation,” Cook said.

Read more: Winnipeg police arrest suspect in local lawyer Justin Silicz’s murder

During closing arguments on Monday, Crown attorney Amy Wood told jurors that self-defence is not to be used as an insurance policy in the court of law.

She said Mitchell was the aggressor and single-handedly created the threat to himself.

“He brought a knife to a fist fight that shouldn’t have been a fight,” Wood said.

If anything, Wood said Silicz was acting in self-defence when he went to help Hazjler after he was punched.

The jury will get final instructions Tuesday morning before beginning deliberations.

 

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