Members sequestered to reach verdict on second-degree murder or manslaughter
Members of the jury began deliberations Thursday, but they already know David Folker is guilty.
Just what charge he’s guilty of is what the eight women and four men have to decide.
David Folker sits in Newfoundland Supreme Court this morning as his murder trial continues with the judge instructing the jury before its deliberations. — Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram
Jurors began deliberations at around lunch hour at Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John’s. That was after Justice Wayne Dymond spent the morning instructing them on how to apply the law and assess the evidence in the trial that has lasted more than a month.
Folker, 43, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Ann Marie Shirran on July 18, 2010, and interfering with a dead body.
Folker’s lawyers have already told them he’s guilty of manslaughter. He’s admitted that Shirran died as a result of a physical altercation between them. He said he grabbed her by the throat and tossed her, but didn’t mean to kill her.
Folker has also admitted he moved Ann Marie Shirran’s body after she died, meaning he’s conceded guilt on that charge. For more than three years, Folker lied and denied he had anything to do with it, but made the admission on the second day of the trial.
As a result, the only decision the jury must make is whether Folker intended to kill Shirran or if he knew his actions would lead to her death.
If they decide he did, he should be found guilty of second-degree murder, Dymond said. If not, he added, jurors must find him guilty of manslaughter.
To determine whether he had intent, the judge told jurors that the Crown must have proven that Folker had “the state of mind for murder.”
He told them to look at all the evidence to help them determine that and use “use your good, common sense.”
He said to consider all the evidence leading up to the offence, including the testimony of the witnesses.
A few of Shirran’s friends had testified that Shirran had planned to deny Folker access to their young son after they broke up.
The Crown contends that was Folker’s motive for murdering Shirran.
Folker, however, denies Shirran told him that.
Folker also revealed his fears of losing custody of their son in a hand-written letter to a female friend, which was found by police in Folker’s vehicle.
He noted that having motive is not necessary in proving second-degree murder.
Dymond told jurors it’s up to them how much of that evidence to consider.
The same goes, he said, for the medical experts who testified, including Dr. Simon Avis.
Avis told the court that it was his opinion that after examining Shirran’s skeletal remains, she died from blunt force to the head. He said she had two separate fractures to the densest part of her skull. He said a simple fall would not cause such injuries, but couldn’t say exactly how much force would be needed.
The defence said one was caused by the initial fall from the altercation. They suggested the second was caused when Folker dropped Shirran on the pavement while carried her out to the SUV after she died.
In assessing the evidence, the jury was instructed not to use Folker’s post-offence conduct — or what he did after Shirran died — to prove he intended to murder her.
“What he did after should be given no weight,” Dymond said.
“People do things for different reasons. The fact that he lied may have been to cover up the fact he killed Ms. Shirran, not that he intended to kill her.”
However, Dymond pointed out that Folker’s lies can certainly go towards assessing his credibility.
Overall, the judge reminded the jury that the onus is on the Crown to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Folker intended to kill Shirran.
“David Folker does not have to prove anything,” he said.
After a morning of being instructed on the law by Justice Wayne Dymond at Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John's, the eight women and four men of the jury in the David Folker murder trial are set to begin deliberations.
Dymond spent the morning delivering his charge to the jury.
Folker is charged with second-degree murder in the July 18, 2010, death of Ann Marie Shirran. He's also charged with interfering with a dead human body.
In closing arguments Wednesday, Folker's lawyer Jason Edwards told jurors that Folker is guilty of manslaughter, not murder, because he said he didn't intend to kill Shirran.
Dymond spoke to the jury about what evidence and laws to consider in helping them reach a decision.