Marion manslaughter trial underway

The criminal trial of Frank William Edward Marion, 51, got underway today (Monday) in B.C. Supreme Court in Prince George. Outlining her case, Crown  counsel Marie Louise Ahrens said the trial – expected to be three weeks or less – will include written submissions of agreed upon facts by lawyers on both sides.

For the Crown, the central issue in the case will be, "who set the fire?" she said.

"We are looking at who set this fire. No one saw the fire being set … This is a circumstantial case."

Jagdev Singh Jawanda, 85, a member of the local Sikh community, died after a fire broke out in the early morning hours of Jan. 7, 2012 at the three-storey building he owned on Merritt Road. The dwelling contained three self-contained suites, said Ahrens and Jawanda occupied the top floor suite. She said fire crew members found Jawanda at the top of the stairs.

"He was briefly revived but later died in hospital," said Ahrens.

Marion is charged with manslaughter, criminal negligence causing death and arson causing bodily harm in connection with the house fire and Jawanda's death. Ahrens said the Crown witnesses will include firefighters who will testify about what they saw and found when they were dispatched to the scene. Two police officers will also be called to describe how they found Marion, on foot, in the vicinity of Landsdowne and Ferry Rd. carrying a duffel bag smelling "of a strong odour of what they thought was gasoline."

Marion was subsequently arrested, his clothing,footwear and personal affects seized by police, she said.

Marion's defense lawyer Keith Jones cross-examined both men about any gasoline present in the house, such as that used for lawn mowers.

The case continues before B.C. Supreme Court Justice Ron Tindale.


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