Closing arguments heard in fatal stabbing of cancer researcher
Tamara Cherry, CTV News Toronto
Published Tuesday, June 5, 2018 6:22PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 5, 2018 7:18PM EDT
A Toronto jury heard closing arguments Tuesday in the case of a cancer researcher who was stabbed to death during a walk near his downtown home.
Mark Ernsting, 39, was out for his routine evening walk on Dec. 15, 2015, near Yonge and College streets when he was stabbed nine times.
Calvin Nimoh, 24, has pleaded not guilty to the charge of first-degree murder, but does not deny killing Ernsting, who the Crown claims was the victim of a random, unprovoked attack.
Defence lawyer Charn Gill argued the case amounts to manslaughter.
"It is not easy to stand up and admit that you have taken a life, but he has done so," Gill said. "This trial is about his mental state at the time of the offence."
Nimoh was in a state of emotional turmoil, Gill argued, having just learned his girlfriend was leaving him for her female lover. He was contemplating the traumatic events of his life, including physical and sexual abuse as a child, when he and Ernsting walked toward each other on McGill St. just before 9:30 p.m., Gill said.
"He remembers seeing someone walking towards him that we now know was Dr. Ernsting and he remembers being asked 'Do you want to have some fun,' that he understood as a sexual invitation. The next thing he remembers is a voice yelling 'Hey,'" Gill said, referring to the voice of a witness. "And that's when Calvin ran."
Crown attorney Lindsay Kromm argued that Nimoh, who initially denied to police having even been on McGill Street, is not to be believed.
It is the Crown's allegation that Ernsting was Nimoh's second victim that night — that he had robbed and stabbed another vulnerable victim on another quiet, residential street less than two hours earlier.
Glynis Brownsey, who was 65 at the time of that attack, testified that she was grabbed from behind by a man before repeatedly being stabbed in the side of her torso.
While Nimoh claims he had no part in that robbery — that it was carried out by his girlfriend and her female lover — the Crown argued Tuesday that the first robbery forms the basis of Nimoh's plan to stab and rob a second victim.
"And on December 15, 2015, Mark Ernsting became the tragic victim of that cruel plan," Kromm said.
"You should approach everything he says with a healthy dose of skepticism," Kromm said of Nimoh's version of events. "All you have is the word of someone who has admitted to lying repeatedly to protect himself."
The robbery of Brownsey demonstrates that Ernsting's death "was not an impulsive act," Kromm said. "It was part of a larger course of action, a plan that Calvin Nimoh had formulated that night. A very simple plan to be sure, but a plan. On that night, Calvin Nimoh had no money and no job. He told his girlfriend he needed to commit a robbery and that's what he did. He acted without concern or empathy for anyone other than himself."
The defence argued that Nimoh's girlfriend, who was contradicted several times in the witness box, is not a reliable witness, but rather someone who was motivated by her new relationship and desire to get Nimoh out of her life.
For the same reasons, Gill said, the lover could not be believed when she testified that it was she and Nimoh who robbed Brownsey. She testified that Nimoh told her after the robbery that he thought he had just "caught a body," or murdered someone, and that he was going to jail. She said that after Ernsting was killed, Nimoh confided to her that he had just killed a man and shown him "no mercy."
"Mark Ernsting, cancer researcher, husband, member of your community, was on his way home at 9:27 p.m. when he was approached from behind by Calvin Nimoh," Kromm said. "Dr. Ernsting didn't say one word to Calvin Nimoh because he didn't have a chance to do so."
"Mark Ernsting had not one defensive wound on his body. Not to his hands. Not to his arms. Not to the front of his torso," she said.
"This was a planned and deliberate attack on an innocent, unsuspecting, upstanding member of our society. Calvin Nimoh has told you in so many words what he says happened that night. They are words that cannot and should not be believed becuase Calvin Nimoh's actions speak for themselves, and what Calvin Nimoh's actions tell you is that he is guilty of first-degree murder."
Jurors are expected to begin their deliberations on Thursday after receiving instructions from Justice David McCombs.