A jury has found a youth guilty of second-degree murder in the 2019 killing of Winnipeg woman Lise Danais following a month-long trial.
The jury was sequestered Wednesday afternoon returned its verdict Thursday night. Dressed in a blue suit and tie, the youth fell forward as the decision was read.
Danais, 51, was found in critical condition with brutal injuries in her Rockcliffe Road house, near the Royal Canadian Mint, on the morning of March 26, 2019. She was rushed to hospital but died shortly afterward.
A youth known to her was charged in her death about five months later. He pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder.
Second-degree murder is a deliberate killing that occurs without planning and carries a maximum penalty of seven years for a youth, some of which can be spent in community supervision.
Supporters of Danais and the youth declined to be interviewed by media after the decision.
The youth looked to his supporters while struggling to hold back tears. Some cried out “we love you” as he was taken into custody. Outside court, one of his supporters said “it’s an injustice,” while another said, “he’s an innocent kid.”
He cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, and CBC News is not revealing some details in the case as they could identify him.
Crown prosecutors Jennifer Mann and Erika Dolcetti said the youth was the only person with the time and opportunity to kill Danais, and had carefully planned out her killing.
The morning Danais died, the youth arranged to have her dog, which was very protective of her, out of the home, court heard during the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench trial, presided over by Justice Anne Turner.
The youth returned to Danais’s home about an hour later. He called 911 about 10 minutes after that, saying he had found Danais dead, court was told.
Jurors also heard that there was DNA evidence linking the youth to the scene, and that video surveillance did not capture anyone except the youth coming and going from Danais’s home the morning she was assaulted.
The youth’s lawyer, Matt Gould, argued that the evidence against his client was mostly circumstantial and questioned why other possibilities weren’t investigated more thoroughly.
In particular, he argued the police should have investigated another potential suspect, Danais’s co-worker, more thoroughly, because Danais had filed a complaint against him and had said she was afraid of him.