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Supreme Court of Canada rules not to hear appeal in Anne Norris case

Anne Norris attended the appeal of her trial verdict in Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal in St. John's Friday morning. In February, Norris was found not criminally responsible for the killing of Marcel Reardon in May 2016. The Crown is appealing the verdict, saying certain evidence should not have been excluded from the trial.
Anne Norris. - Tara Bradbury file photo/The Telegram
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled it will not review the Anne Norris verdict in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The country’s highest court this week dismissed an application by the Attorney General of Newfoundland and Labrador for leave to appeal a decision of the province’s Court of Appeal in the case.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal determined in May there were no grounds for a new trial for Norris, who was found not criminally responsible in February 2018 for the murder of Marcel Reardon two years earlier.

Norris, 32, admitted she killed Reardon, 46, by striking him repeatedly in the head with a hammer outside her downtown St. John's apartment building in the early morning hours of May 9, 2016.

She acknowledged she had bought the hammer the previous evening and, after killing Reardon, had moved his body underneath an outside set of stairs before putting the hammer and other items in a backpack and throwing it into St. John's harbour.

Norris's lawyers, Rosellen Sullivan and Jerome Kennedy, argued she should be found not criminally responsible for Reardon's death because a longstanding mental illness caused her to experience delusions and psychotic episodes.

Prosecutors Iain Hollett and Jeff Summers argued there was no evidence Norris was suffering from such episodes at the time she killed Reardon, and maintained she planned to kill him and knew exactly what she was doing.

After a six-week trial that included the testimony of 31 witnesses, a jury agreed with the defence. 

Norris was transferred from jail to the Waterford Hospital two days later, and will remain there until it is deemed safe for her to live in the community by a review panel, or the verdict is overturned.

With the Supreme Court of Canada deciding not to hear an appeal, the verdict remains intact.

The Crown had appealed the verdict to the Newfoundland Court of Appeal on the grounds that the trial judge, Justice William Goodridge, should not have excluded from evidence wiretap prison cell recordings in which Norris is heard talking about serial killers, making up murder stories and a rhyme called "Goodnight Marcel," and calling herself "a psycho" and "a messy monster."

Goodridge also should not have excluded the medical records and reports of prison psychiatrist Dr. David Craig, who had conducted an interview with Norris in the days after she was arrested for Reardon's murder, the Crown argued, and should have limited the scope of surrebuttal evidence presented by an expert witness for the defence.

That appeal was heard in November 2018.

The appeal judges determined Goodridge had not erred in excluding the intercepted prison conversations, but said he should have allowed Dr. Craig's medical records into evidence.

Goodridge also failed to properly limit the scope of the surrebuttal evidence, the panel ruled.

"Nonetheless those errors, individually and cumulatively would not have had a material bearing on the jury's decision to find Ms. Norris not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder," the appeal judges wrote in their decision, dismissing the appeal.

"There is no basis on which to order a new trial."

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