An Osoyoos man accused of killing his common-law wife in 2020 has been found not guilty.
Roderick Ashley Flavell, 64, was tried for the manslaughter death of his partner of 18 years, Tina Seminara in July.
In a decision released online last week, B.C. Supreme Court Justice David Crossin said he found the evidence against Flavel too “vague and uncertain” to convict.
“In my view, possibilities, layered upon likelihoods, banked over suspicions, do not translate into a solid evidentiary foundation upon which a finding of guilt can rest,” he said.
“A probability that something occurred between the accused and (Tina) Seminara for which the accused feels responsible, and perhaps is responsible, cannot form the bedrock of proof. The absence of evidence in this case fatally undermines a finding that, on the evidence, the guilt of the accused is the only rational inference.”
Seminara died in hospital April 17, 2020, after being removed from life support. According to court documents, she was gravely injured and found unconscious, though breathing, at her Osoyoos home on April 8, 2020.
The trial judge heard that Flavell told a 911 operator that help was needed and he and Seminara had a “major row.”
“He was asked by the dispatcher whether they were fighting. He answered, ‘yeah, I’m not talking…much more,’” according to court documents.
He then turned himself into the police, parking in his car at the RCMP detachment. When two Mounties went to meet him, he exited the vehicle.
One of the RCMP police officers noted that his shirt was stained by what looked like wine and blood, and he was taken into custody. He seemed “melancholy” according to their testimony, and there were what appeared to be self-inflicted wounds on his wrists.
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At his house, Seminara lay on the living room floor.
“She was clothed,” Crossin wrote.
“(An RCMP officer) observed broken glass on the floor near her body and what appeared to be a broken bottle and wineglass stem on one side of the living room. He also observed a table upside down.”
She had a slight pulse and the RCMP officer observed she appeared to be “quite badly beaten.”
He said her face was purple and had lumps, her lips were swollen and her right cheek, nose and forehead was also swollen. There were no cuts, other than one on her shin.
This evidence, however, was contrary to other testimony, where the injuries appeared only to be on her nose and left temple.
Further, Crossin said that there was more disparity when the autopsy was examined in court.
Dr. Jason Doyle, a forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy found that blunt force trauma was possibly a cause of the severe brain injury that ultimately took the woman’s life, but without more information than what was available at the autopsy, he could not go any further.
In addition, Doyle could not discount the prospect of seizure as a possible cause for the injury.
Crossin also referred to evidence from the aftermath of the crime, when Flavell told a friend he’d thrown a glass object at her, though, “he threw it to miss her.”
He went on to say it would be unsafe to rest a finding of guilt on the “vague and uncertain” evidence offered, adding he was “left in reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the accused.”
Seminara was a long-time yoga and Zumba instructor in the small South Okanagan community. In the immediate aftermath of the crime, the community expressed shock.
Ron Doucette, president of the Osoyoos curling club, said the two were dedicated volunteers, and that Flavell was an ice technician for three years.
“Devastating, just devastating,” Doucette told Global News. “They were just so well-loved.”