Judge delivers four hours of final instructions before deliberations
Leo Crockwell is handcuffed by a sheriff officer at Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John's today. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
Leo Crockwell has been found guilty on five of six counts.
He was found not guilty of uttering threats.
Crockwell was charged with assault with a weapon and uttering threats towards his sister; mischief by interfering with property; carelessly using a firearm; and intentionally and recklessly discharging a firearm.
Case will be back in court Tuesday, at which time the judge and lawyers will discuss scheduling for a sentencing hearing. They will also discuss a stay of proceedings application filed months ago by Crockwell's former lawyer Ken Mahoney.
The judge ordered a pre-sentence report be prepared and requested that it be completed by June 26. He's hoping to have the sentencing hearing begin shortly after that.
The Jury are back from deliberations, and are expected to deliver their verdict within minutes.
As tempting as it may be to judge how the RCMP acted in the December 2010 standoff in Bay Bulls, the judge reminded jurors their job is to judge the actions of one person — Leo Crockwell.
“You are not here to conduct an inquiry into the actions of police,” Justice Richard LeBlanc told jurors Thursday while giving them final instructions at Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John’s.
“This should be of no consequence to your deliberations.
“This case is about the charges (against) Mr. Crockwell.”
After sitting through six weeks of testimony in a trial that saw close to 50 witnesses take the stand and numerous exhibits and photos entered as evidence, the 11 jury members left the courtroom to begin the daunting task of reaching a verdict in Crockwell’s case.
But before the jurors could do that, they had to listen to four hours of instruction.
LeBlanc began speaking shortly after 9:30 a.m. and, with just three short breaks in between, concluded at 1:40 p.m.
He spoke for so long, his voice got raspy, prompting him to take a five-minute break near the end.
The judge explained, in detail, the jury’s role, the six charges against Crockwell and reviewed the evidence, witness testimony, along with the final arguments from Crockwell, who represented himself, and Crown prosecutor Elizabeth Ivany.
The judge outlined the principles of law and reminded jurors that Crockwell is presumed innocent. He said it was the Crown’s job to prove Crockwell was guilty of the crimes he was accused of beyond a reasonable doubt.
“Not beyond a shadow of a doubt,” LeBlanc said, “but, if based on the evidence, you are not sure (he committed the crimes), you should find him not guilty.”
Crockwell is charged with assault with a weapon and uttering threats towards his sister; mischief by interfering with property; carelessly using a firearm; and intentionally and recklessly discharging a firearm. Charges of assault and using a firearm without a licence were dropped — the assault because the charge was considered redundant and the latter due to a lack of evidence.
The 57-year-old was charged as a result of a standoff with police at his family’s Bay Bulls house. It began Dec. 4, 2010, and ended eight days later when Crockwell was picked up at a house on Petty Harbour Road.
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A couple, who Crockwell hitched a ride with, dropped him off there and then called the RNC.
Crockwell, who had slipped out of a side window in the Bay Bulls house, was arrested and has been behind bars ever since.
After parting ways with his third lawyer early in the trial, Crockwell represented himself, earning compliments from the judge and amicus (mediator) Randy Piercey.
Crockwell didn’t call any evidence, but did subpoena Natural Resources Minister Jerome Kennedy.
Kennedy was his lawyer in a case in 1998, when Crockwell was found to have been unlawfully held at the Waterford Hospital for 140 days.
Kennedy showed up at the courthouse Monday, but left after Crockwell’s plans changed.
Nonetheless, that 1998 case maybe come into play for the jury
LeBlanc pointed out that while Crockwell did not present a defence of mental insanity, his state of mind at the time must be considered.
The judge said this would particularly apply to the final charge of intentionally and recklessly discharging a firearm.
That charge, which carries a minimum sentence of four years in jail, was laid as a result of what happened on Dec. 8, 2010.
That night — after throwing tear gas and other methods to force Crockwell out of the house had failed — members of the N.L. emergency response team approached the back door, with the goal of breaking it down and using a Taser on Crockwell.
However, officers said when shots were fired from inside the house and the robot was disabled, they retreated.
Crockwell claims he felt he was under attack in his family’s home and said he acted in self-defence.
LeBlanc pointed out that when considering Crockwell’s state of mind during the “chaotic” scene on Dec. 8, 2010, jurors must consider several factors — Crockwell’s background, his alleged mental state and past experiences, including the 1998 case, which led him to mistrust police and the justice system.
The judge said jurors must determine if Crockwell intentionally and recklessly put the lives and safety of the officers in danger or if was he reasonable and justified in what he did.
“You must decide is Mr. Crockwell reasonably believed he was being unlawfully assaulted,” the judge said.
He also said to keep in mind, “a person under assault usually doesn’t have time to make calm decisions.”
However, the judge added that if jurors believe Crockwell was, in fact, trying to defend himself and the house, they must determine if he used excessive force in doing so.
In the end, the judge told jurors to look at all the evidence in totality and use common sense in coming to a decision.