KAMLOOPS - A jury has been asked to decide if a 16-year-old boy who shot and killed a rival for his girlfriend almost eight years ago planned the murder or shot him in a panic after botching a plan to scare the victim.
Defence and Crown lawyers gave final submissions to the jury in Kamloops, B.C., on Tuesday morning. Following instructions from B.C. Supreme Court Justice Sheri Donegan, jurors began deliberating on Wednesday.
Tyler Myers, 22, was shot to death on the grounds of a Salmon Arm elementary school Nov. 21, 2008.
The now-24-year-old man accused of first-degree murder cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act because he was 16 when Myers was killed.
The accused's ex-girlfriend, who was 17 years old at the time and is now 25, is also charged with first-degree murder and will face trial later this year.
They were charged four years after the slaying, at the end of a months-long RCMP undercover operation that culminated in confessions from both suspects.
The accused pleaded guilty to second-degree murder at the start of the trial, but the Crown declined to accept that plea, leaving the jury to decide whether he should be convicted of the more serious charge.
Defence lawyer Donna Turko told jurors it was the girl who masterminded the murder. Texts were read in court showing the girl was having sex with both Myers and the 16-year-old and was also sexting with a friend in California.
"She's having explicit sexual relations with both men and telling both she loves them," Turko said, arguing the teenager was "lovesick" and was manipulated by the girl.
"She was not working on him to hatch a plan," Turko said. "She was working on him to do her bidding."
The accused testified he intended to scare Myers with a shot and panicked when things went wrong. Turko said her client "didn't know ahead of time he'd shoot Tyler."
Crown prosecutor Evan Goulet said it's not disputed that Myers died of three gunshot wounds, one to his back while on his feet and the other two while he was face-down on the ground.
The accused told his trial that the girl told him "shoot him [Myers] in the head" as he was on the ground.
While Turko painted a portrait of her client as the pawn of the girl, Goulet said the accused's statement to police when he was arrested in 2012 shows what really went on in his head.
The court heard that in the statement to police, the man said nothing about any attempt to scare Myers in the schoolyard. Instead, he described hiding some 50 or 60 feet away in the woods, using a stump to line up and steady the .22 he borrowed from a friend before shooting in Myers' direction.
"Yes he was 16," Goulet said. "He's still a human being. He's not a child. He's not stupid… . There was a plan and everything went according to plan."