Judge says two Manners witnesses admittedly lied
The jury in the Jordan Manners murder case will resume deliberations Wednesday morning, and now that they are sequestered, some details about possible perjury and excluded evidence can now be told.
A tiny bit of gunpowder residue was found on the hand of J.W., one of two young men on trial for first-degree murder in connection with the death of Manners.
However, he wasn't examined until seven hours after the shooting. In any event, Justice Ian Nordheimer ruled the evidence inadmissible. He said police violated J.W.'s rights when obtaining the evidence.
Nordheimer instructed the 11-person jury (one had been excused over a family emergency) in the applicable law before they commenced deliberations about 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday. He urged them to be careful of eyewitness testimony and to only consider evidence given under oath.
The deliberations ended for the day early in the evening, with the jurors taken to a hotel near the University Avenue courthouse.
But after delivering the "charge," as it's known, Nordheimer made a startling statement after the jurors left to deliberate.
“Two young females admitted that they lied. It's equally possible that they lied during the trial,” he told Crown and defence counsel.
It undermined the process, and the Attorney General should review this, he said.
On May 23, 2007, people found the C.W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute student lying in a stairwell. Upon closer examination, Manners was found to have suffered a gunshot wound that pierced his heart and lung.
Much will depend on how much credibility the jury gives to the evidence of some female student witnesses.
One in particular told police she saw defendants J.W. and C.D. drag Manners down a set of stairs and pressing something to his chest. After Manners slumped, she alleged they robbed Manners of a neck chain, cellphone and wallet before fleeing.
Both were under 18 at the time of the incident, so they can't be named under provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
In court, however, the girl distanced herself from that statement. She testified that she didn't actually see those things happen and that most of what she had told police was hearsay from classmates.
In closing arguments on Monday, Donald McLeod, J.W.'s lawyer told the jury: “She confesses that she lied, and she lied to police even from the very beginning," according to the Toronto Star.
Lydia Riva, lawyer for C.D., expanded on that. She suggested the girl made up her story because she liked the attention but didn't know how to recant once the investigation picked up momentum.
Crown prosecutor Tom Lissaman told the jury the girl told the truth in the first place and repudiated her statement out of fear of reprisals. He urged the jury to believe her original statement, not her testimony.
Another young female witness recanted her original incriminating statement.
The Crown presented no firearm or any physical evidence linking the two to the crime scene.
The defence noted that a necklace, cash, iPod and cellphone were found on Manners' body. They also claimed that a fourth female student witness saw two males with the victim and heading towards the stairwell.
The trial began on Feb. 3, but the evidence portion wrapped up on March 12. The defence presented evidence, but the accused did not testify, which is their right. The burden is on the Crown to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Chris Eby