Anger, tears, and disbelief from family members of the victims followed not guilty verdicts in the Sexsmith stabbing case.
The seven-man, five-woman jury acquitted Jordan Joseph Wendland of one count of manslaughter in the death of 18-year-old Donald Moberly and three counts of aggravated assault in the stabbings of three other men.
The Crown had argued the use of a knife during the 2015 bar fight was not reasonable when no one else was armed. The defense said Wendland had acted in self-defense of himself and a friend and that they were outnumbered. Neither side disputed the fact that he was the one who had inflicted the stab wounds.
Chief Crown Prosecutor Steven Hinkley says the verdict must be crushing for the families.
“The mother in this case, in one evening, lost one of her children and had another one gravely hurt. Another family has had another one of their children gravely hurt and another child was hurt. The community will likely never be the same. But, the Crown’s job is to try people for criminal sanctions and guilt, not whether or not their actions were morally wrong, but criminally, and that’s what this process was all about.”
Defence counsel declined to do an interview with our newsroom.
The jury deliberated for about five hours with the verdict being read out in Grande Prairie court around 9 p.m. Thursday night.
Hinkley says the jury was given all the evidence the Crown had.
“They were given an instruction on the law that was thorough. They went about their duties for five-and-a-half hours with all of that information and they came back with a decision. The Crown does not win, the Crown does not lose, the Crown searches for the truth. If the jury had all of the information before it, and the right instruction on the law, we have to be content with their verdict.”
He adds because jury deliberations are confidential, we will never know why the jurors voted the way they did.
“They were polled. They were unanimous. The evidence was what it was. They reviewed it thoroughly.”
Wendland must still deal with charges in a separate case in B.C.