Closing arguments in Hyatt case
Crown Counsel Murray Kaay said in his closing argument Thursday that it was the defendant in the Ashlee Hyatt trial who took the fight to the next level.
Her actions were fueled by anger he claimed, not by a need to defend herself, and her decision to produce the knife allegedly used in the stabbing was a disproportionate use of force.
The closing arguments given by the crown and defence lawyer Donna Turko were given as the trial for the teen accused of stabbing to death Hyatt at a Peachland house party on June 2, 2010 continues.
Kaay at first advised the jury that if they believe there is reasonable doubt, the accused did not commit the act and if they believe she took the knife from somebody who may have inflicted the final wound, then they should acquit.
That said, however, he argued the jury should not accept the evidence given by the accused, because she was not acting in self defence and did mean to cause bodily harm.
In relation to the charges of assault the accused faces for allegedly cutting the hands and arm of the teen party host with the same knife, that case is not complete, he said.
This case is about a drinking party like any other teenage drinking party, he claimed. There was drama created by the teens who lived in the house in the break up of the party and then of course there was the central drama around the accused and whether or not she was with a boy that led to insults between friends.
The accused said she was irritated because she wanted to talk to her boyfriend and being upset led to the fight, he said, again, reiterating she could have gone back in the house or walked away.
It was the testimony of Michael Baxter, the young man who recently died in a car accident, at the preliminary inquiry that was the most believable testimony, he told the jury.
He was not drinking and was in the best position to witness what unfolded on the street in front of the residence, he said.
And it was Baxter, he claimed, who described the accused as being pissed off and reaching in her purse to get the knife.
Earlier evidence given by another teen at the party was also consistent with what Baxter said, although she was totally drunk.
Other witnesses also testified about the ongoing conflict between the accused and Hyatt about a boy. It was clear that argument led to the exchange of punches and at a critical point the accused produced the knife, said Kaay.
He further asked the jury to consider that the accused told them she drank that day and it was whiskey, stronger than what she normally drank. At the friend's house, where she went when she ran from the party, she was also deliberately vague, he argued, because she had yet to figure out what story she would tell.
Turko talked about bullies and the wannabes that hang around them and how the girls at the party acted out these roles that night.
The sister of the teen host of the party was acting as a wannabe and it was she who started spreading the rumour about the accused.
She falsely pinned a scarlet letter on her and the bullies and wannabes stepped in, she said.
The bullying continued after that night, with the witnesses changing their stories, which she described as collusion lying to get the accused and disregard the truth.
They feel an injustice occurred and they feel someone needs to pay for it, she said.
Furthermore the evidence of the woman who broke up the party needs to be approached with some care because she considers the two girls who live in the Peachland house to be like her daughters.
Overall, she claimed the evidence from the accused is more consistent because she was focused on going after her boyfriend and the boy who she allegedly kissed after leaving the party.
The jury was also urged to take into consideration the odd behaviour of the teen host.
Why did she run from the scene, is it because she pulled out the knife, full of bravado, trying to help Ashlee and something goes terribly wrong, she said.
In the case of Baxter, he did not get the high level of challenge the other witnesses did, she argued. In addition, he showed a careless attitude toward the truth at the preliminary hearing.
The most believable evidence is the forensic evidence, which she described as the witness that does not lie in this case.
As an example she described the drop of blood on the party host's shirt that comes from a direct source of fresh blood dripping on her that would put her in touch with Hyatt.
The fact that a bloody boot belonging to the accused also ended up in the home, showed an attempt to hide it that made her uneasy about the role of the party host's sister that evening, Turko argued.
It was also the theory of the defence that it was the sister who introduced the knife and maybe brought it to the scene on the street.
Again she returned to the testimony of the accused saying she focused on the story and that shows her character and that she was calm and forthright during the cross examination by crown counsel.
In conclusion, Turko said the death of Hyatt is tragic and must be more of an accident at the hands of these young girls than anything else. The lack of information should give reasonable doubt to the jury, she said.
Justice Geoff Barrow began his instructions to the jury Thursday afternoon. The instruction is expected to continue today.
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