Jurors hear closing arguments in West Kelowna teen murder case
Jurors weighing the fate of an alleged teenage killer were left with a whodunnit Thursday afternoon, when Crown counsel and defence lawyers offered closing arguments.
If they're to see things the way Crown counsel Murray Kaay presented them, the 18-year-old standing trial for the 2010 murder of Ashlee Hyatt is the only option.
In terms of DNA, Hyatt's blood could be found on the accused teen's pants, sweater and boots.
Testimony from witness Michael Baxter—the only sober teen at the party— places her in a one-on-one melee with Hyatt, 16. He testified he saw her holding a knife before the fatal wound to her neck was inflicted.
In the preliminary hearing he said she told Hyatt, "I'll stab you" from a distance of six to eight feet away.
"Was it reasonable for (the accused) to raise a knife in a potential fist fight?" Kaay asked?
"She was not getting beaten senseless by Ashlee Hyatt. I'd suggest she brought the fight to another level."
Kaay surmised that the actions of the accused were motivated by anger—despite her assertions to the contrary—not self defence.
She had, after all, been drinking heavily and verbally battling Hyatt and the other girls all night long, after they said she'd been unfaithful to her boyfriend.
She pointed out when she testified that she was frustrated that nobody was listening to her, but when she fled the scene and found a friend who was offering a sympathetic ear, "she was deliberately vague."
On cross examination, the teen told Kaay she was evasive with her friend's questions because "there was a crap-load of confusion."
He offered the jury an alternate suggestion in closing.
"She was confused because she'd yet to figure out her story," he said. "Her story is one you should not believe."
In defence of the teen, lawyer Donna Turko pointed out that the accused was actually very coherent in her only presentation to the jury.
"(She was) forthright without hostility and no sense of entitlement," said Turko, adding she answered the questions in a straightforward manner.
And she was facing an unmanageable situation. The accused had been ganged up on that night, she said. Then she was forced to fight Hyatt and the party host in an act of self-defence, when things went awry. And in the aftermath, she was unfairly railroaded into the role of killer by the group of closeknit friends who were seeking justice for Ashlee.
Who would have better deserved the scrutiny, she said, was the party host and her little sister.
By Turko's estimates, the sisters were key players in the drama that took Hyatt's life.
"Our theory is that (the youngest sister) brought the knife, (to the fight)," she said, surmising it was done to "impress her sister."
Then the party host, in the middle of the tussle between her, Hyatt and the accused, was the one who likely delivered the fatal wound—albeit by accident.
A drop of Hyatt's blood was on her clothing as well, and Turko said that indicates she was nearby as it fell.
Turko also said there's no reason to believe that the party host had been assaulted by the accused—as has been asserted— as cuts to her arm and hands weren't reflected in blood evidence on the knife.
Further testimony by adults who came upon the scene, she said, were also suspect as they were all influenced by their relationship with the party host.
The jury will get further direction and go into deliberations Friday.