Jury begins deliberations in Hyatt trial

Jury deliberations in the Ashlee Hyatt trial began Friday afternoon, following weeks of testimony from a wide range of witnesses.

The jury moved into this phase of the long running trial, where the accused is facing a second degree murder charge in the death of Hyatt on June 2,2010 at a Peachland house party,  after receiving final instructions from Justice Geoff Barrow.

Barrow discussed the three counts against the accused, which also includes assault with a weapon on the party host, and advised the jury to consider the matters of self defence, identity and alcohol consumption on the night Hyatt died at the party.

He recapped evidence from different witnesses, including Michael Baxter, other teens at the party, neighbours, adults who broke up the party as well as DNA analysis.

Baxter he said, was the one alleged to be sober at the party who saw the accused yelling to her boyfriend,"just talk to me," and Hyatt trying to drag the boyfriend away from the accused. He also described in his testimony at the preliminary hearing before he died in a car accident, that the girls started bickering with each other and calling each other sluts.

The accused was pissed off, he said. When the fight escalated, she reached into her purse and pulled out the knife. He claimed he saw the knife in her hand and her saying, "I'll stab you."

The testimony from the teen who was dating Baxter at the time was similar, although she admitted to being totally drunk at the time.

She described the accused and Hyatt as a ball of fighting people and seeing Hyatt with her  hand on her neck, walking to Baxter and saying, "that bitch just stabbed me."

Of the DNA evidence given during the trial, the judge said there were four areas of  blood on the boot found at the crime scene matching Hyatt's profile. Hyatt's blood was also on clothing worn by the accused that night.

Hyatt's blood was found on the shirt belonging to the teen host of the party as well as on the knife from the crime scene.  Blood on the blade was matched to Hyatt and biological matter on the handle was linked to Morgan Smith,  a young man linked to the sister of the teen party host.

In relation to the alcohol consumption that day, he said evidence showing it took place comes from several different witnesses. The girls were drinking whiskey straight from the bottle followed by a soft drink chaser after school and continued drinking at the party in Peachland.

Baxter testified the accused was super drunk and slurring her words .

In terms of submissions by crown counsel and defence, the judge said they both mentioned the credibility of the witnesses.

He defined this as a witness not telling the truth and one that is said to lack credibility.

Regarding the defence argument, he stated they argued she was calm and forthright in her testimony.

In the case of the party host, her behaviour that night was bizarre. She ran and hid and the lawyer asked why would she do that. Nor did the party host say anything about the knife when she was talking to police.

They asked how could it be that her DNA was not found on the knife, if the event unfolded as it was said to. There were also inconsistencies in the evidence given by the girl Baxter was seeing at the time.

The defence concluding, they all made up their mind early, the accused was responsible for Hyatt's death and tailored  their evidence to fit that conclusion.

In the crown's argument, it was submitted that Baxter was the most credible and reliable witness because he had the best view of the fight  and saw the knife in the accused hand and heard her say, "I will stab you."

The judge concluded, by telling the jury there were several possible verdicts including guilty as charged,  manslaughter or not guilty.

Family members who sat quietly listening day after day through the long trial did not comment Friday. 

The jury will continue their deliberations on Saturday. 

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