Stephen Neville has been found not guilty of second-degree murder and attempted murder.
The victims' families were sobbing at Supreme Court Friday afternoon in St. John's when the verdict came down after eight days of jury deliberations. Some family members burst into tears as soon as the verdict was announced. One man on the victim's side stood up and walked out.
A few people on Neville's side cried as well.
He was also wiping away tears after court.
More details to come.
Eight days after they began their deliberations on a verdict in the murder trial of Steven Neville, the jury has still not returned a verdict.
The 10 jurors — down from an original 12 — have been sequestered since Nov. 30. They spend their days deliberating and their evenings in a local hotel, accompanied by sheriffs’ officers, with no access to phones, TV or Internet.
St. John’s judge tells jury to disregard media reports on Steven Neville’s old murder trial
The jurors returned to court briefly last Saturday to ask the judge a question about a specific piece of evidence, but have been quiet ever since.
If the jury cannot come to a unanimous decision on a verdict, Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court Justice Robert Stack will be forced to declare a mistrial in the case. A mistrial will also happen if the jury loses any more members, since 10 is the minimum required for a verdict.
One juror was excused before deliberations began, after he broke a bone in his ankle and needed to see a surgeon. A second was excused on Monday after he received word that his mother had fallen seriously ill.
This is the second murder trial for Neville, 27, who is charged with the death of 19-year-old Doug Flynn and the attempted murder of another man, Ryan Dwyer, during an altercation on a Paradise Street in 2010. Both men had been stabbed multiple times with a knife.
Neville was found guilty of second-degree murder by a jury in 2013, but that conviction was later overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled there had been issues with the instructions to the jurors from the judge. The court ordered a new trial.
Neville’s lawyers, Bob Buckingham and Robert Hoskins, have argued there is no direct evidence connecting Neville to the stabbings, and none of the witnesses who testified over the 11-week retrial said they had seen Neville with a knife on the night in question. The lawyers said Neville had acted in self-defence against Flynn and Dwyer, who had mounted a “terror campaign” against Neville over an unpaid $65 loan from Dwyer’s brother.
Prosecutors Jessica Gallant and Jason House have said Neville’s actions were calculated and deliberate, as evident by him showing a knife to a friend at a party in the preceding weeks and saying it was “for protection,” as well as a text conversation he had with a friend on the day Flynn and Dwyer were stabbed. Neville told her he was going to stab the men and they were “dead, dead, dead.”
The Telegram is on verdict watch and will provide updates when the jury returns.