THUNDER BAY - After deliberating for nearly a day and a half, the jury in the Jonathan Massicotte trial on the charge of manslaughter for his alleged role in the 2014 death of 32-year-old William Wapoose is deadlocked.
The jury began deliberations on Friday afternoon at approximately 3 p.m. and returned to court Saturday evening just before 7 p.m. where the foreperson informed Justice Tracey Nieckarz that it has not agreed upon a verdict.
“You have rendered a just and proper verdict based on the evidence as you see it,” Justice Nieckarz said.
Justice Nieckarz then dismissed the jury and Massicotte was remanded to appear in the next assignment court in June for the matter to be spoken to.
Under the Criminal Code of Canada, a jury must reach a unanimous decision to convict or acquit the accused. If it is unable to reach a unanimous decision it is declared a hung jury or deadlocked and a retrial can be ordered with a new jury panel.
The jury deadlock follows a five-day trial that opened on May 16 with Massicotte pleading not guilty to second-degree murder.
Wapoose’s body was found near a bike path at the south end of Chapples Park Drive on Sept. 3, 2014. A post-mortem examination determined he suffered numerous injuries, including a skull fracture and laceration from blunt force trauma, several stab wounds to the back, and a significant stab wound to the neck that ultimately resulted in his death due to blood loss.
Massicotte was arrested in May 2019 and initially charged with first-degree murder. A second accused, who was a youth at the time of the offence, was also charged with first-degree murder and will stand trial on the lesser charge of second-degree murder in October 2022.
During closing arguments, Crown attorney Trevor Jukes conceded that there was not enough evidence to convict Massicotte on the charge of second-degree murder but urged the jury to find him guilty on the charge of manslaughter.
Throughout the trial, the Crown called eight witnesses to testify, including its key witness, a youth who testified to being present in Chapples Park with Massicotte and the second accused the night of Sept. 2, 2014. He testified that he saw Massicotte and the second accused assault Wapoose who was found slumped over near a lamppost.
Defense Counsel George Joseph asked the jury to question the witnesses’ reliability, arguing there were several inconsistencies in his testimony and recollection of events.
Joseph argued further that aside from the testimony of the witness, there was no other evidence linking Massicotte to Wapoose’s death.
“It’s been a long few days and a long couple of weeks for you,” Justice Nieckarz told the jury before they were discharged. “I want to thank you for the conscientious way you have performed your duties throughout the course of the trial.”