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Judge gives instructions to jury in Christopher Garnier murder trial

Christopher Calvin Garnier, charged with second-degree murder in the death of Truro police officer Const. Catherine Campbell, is seen entering the courtroom.
ANDREW VAUGHAN – THE CANADIAN PRESS
Christopher Calvin Garnier – THE CANADIAN PRESS

Justice Joshua Arnold delivered instructions to the jury Wednesday afternoon in the trial of Christopher Garnier at the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia.

He reminded jurors that justice will not be done if the wrongly apply the law. He also reminded them to apply the law using only the evidence seen and heard in court and from no outside source. Arnold told jurors to talk and listen to each other and not agree simply for the sake of a unanimous verdict.

Garnier’s charges are in relation to the death of Catherine Campbell, who at the time of her death was employed as a Truro police officer. She had grown up in Stellarton where she was a volunteer firefighter. The defence has argued that she died accidentally while the pair were engaged in rough sexual activities, while the crown has argued that Garnier deliberately strangled her and discarded of her body.

"Christopher Garnier does not have to prove that he is not guilty of the offences charged," said Arnold. He added that jurors can only find Garnier guilty of second degree murder if the Crown can prove its case beyond any reasonable doubt. Arnold also provided instructions on how to deliberate on the second charge of interfering with a dead body.

Arnold advised jurors that they should consider remarks made by Garnier even if they feel unsure about them.

Regarding the charge of interfering with human remains, Garnier claimed he was in a state of automatism or not fully conscious of his actions and that such acts can only be punished if performed voluntarily. This means that evidence must be presented by a defendant to show they were in such a state at the time of an alleged offence.

"It is for that person to satisfy you on a balance of probabilities," said Arnold.

He further reminded jurors that claims can be faked and not to be taken in by experts. However, if a state of automatism is proved, then the person must be cleared of the charged.

"You must not make the evidence conform to the result you think is appropriate," said Arnold.

The judge also went over the evidence presented by witnesses in the trial, including Garnier's own answers to police in his interview, evidence presented by the chief medical examiner and the blood spatters found in the apartment on 5714 McCully Street.

Arnold said the jury must also consider whether Garnier intended to cause harm to Campbell, if she consented to him using physical force including slaps and choking as he told in his version of events.

Arnold mentioned the third element of an unlawful act, the first two being the intentional application of force and that bodily harm was caused. The third is consent.

Garnier says that Campbell consented (or he honestly believed that she did). It is up to the jury to examine all of the circumstances in making a decision. Arnold said that the principle of reasonable doubt applies when weighing the evidence.

The next question is if Garnier had the state of mind required for murder meaning that he meant to kill her or cause bodily harm that was likely to kill her and proceeded despite his knowledge that she would likely die as a result. Only one state of mind must be proven to find a person guilty of murder.

Arnold again recounted Garnier's testimony to police when he said that he did not know what he was thinking or feeling at the time of Campbell's death.

Regarding her remains, the Crown must prove that he interfered with her remains in a way that was disrespectful and offensive.

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