OTTAWA – Canada’s highest court has overturned the second-degree murder conviction of a Saskatchewan man accused of killing his long-time friend.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court of Canada ordered a new trial for Ryan David Clark of Paddockwood, Saskatchewan. He was found guilty in 2018 in Prince Albert Court of Queen’s Bench in the 2016 death of Christopher Lee Durocher.
The appeal went to the highest court in the country after the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal turned down Clark’s appeal in a majority in March. Two Saskatchewan Court of Appeal judges, Justice Jerome Tholl and Justice Ralph Ottenbreit, had ruled against allowing Clark's appeal, but one judge, Justice Robert Leurer, had ruled in favour of allowing Clark’s appeal.
When handing down their ruling Wednesday, the Supreme Court of Canada said they agreed with Saskatchewan Court of Appeal Justice Leurer that the Prince Albert Court of Queen’s Bench judge, in his charge to the jury, didn’t adequately equip jurors to deal with the frailties of the in-court eyewitness identification evidence in this case.
In October 2018, 30-year-old Clark was found guilty of second-degree murder in Durocher’s death and sentenced to life in prison. Durocher's body was found by police Oct. 2, 2016, inside his trailer on his parent's Christopher Lake acreage.
According to court documents, Durocher died from blunt force trauma to his head caused by at least three to five significant blows.
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