Defence says accused's rights were violated in Armstrong manslaughter case - InfoNews

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Defence says accused's rights were violated in Armstrong manslaughter case

Jillian McKinty was found dead the morning of Nov. 27, 2013 in her home in Armstrong by an upstairs neighbour after her two young children were heard yelling.
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May 04, 2017 - 4:30 PM

VERNON - Legal arguments are wrapping up for a Salmon Arm man who says his charter rights were violated by police.

Logan Scott, who has pleaded not guilty to a charge of manslaughter in the 2013 death of Armstrong mother Jillian McKinty, was initially scheduled to stand trial starting April 24, but first, lawyers must complete legal arguments about what evidence can be used in the trial.

Scott’s lawyers, Glenn Verdurmen and Paul Danyliu, say his charter rights were violated by police during the investigation and want evidence taken from his cell phone, as well as a DNA sample, excluded from the trial.

In a taped police interview from 2014, Scott says he went to McKinty’s house the night of Nov. 26, 2013. In the recordings, played in court during the voir dire, Scott claims that McKinty choked herself with a sweater while they were having a sexual encounter.

During the lengthy voir dire — made longer by technical difficulties with audio/video equipment — court heard how Scott skipped a scheduled meeting with investigators and was later caught speeding through a school zone in Crofton, B.C., on Vancouver Island.

On Wednesday, Verdurmen laid out the defence’s case for having the cell phone and DNA evidence excluded from the trial. During a portion of his final submissions, he said both the seizure and search of the phone, and the DNA blood sample, were unlawful.

Scott’s cell phone was initially obtained by Duncan RCMP after he left his car and fled police. On the phone, police found a text from Scott’s wife saying the cops were looking for him. The text included a photo of the investigator’s card.

Scott — who was eventually found and arrested by Duncan RCMP — was held for a time in cells but released before South East District Major Crimes arrived to speak with him. While he was let go and told to come back the next day, police held onto his phone. At that point, Verdurmen said there was no legal authority to seize or retain the phone.

Police did get a warrant, but it only provided four hours for searching the device. Due to technical difficulties, investigators weren’t able to examine the data during that time and kept the phone longer, which essentially left them working off an expired warrant, Verdurmen said.

The defence also says police overstepped their bounds and obtained data — including online search history — that went beyond the scope of the warrant. Data showed that Scott searched ‘What happens to someone who is choked to death’ and ‘Why are there so many unsolved murders in B.C.’

Verdurmen argued the way the phone was seized was ‘absurd’ and called the officer’s information to obtain ‘pretty thin.’ He added investigators should not be able to get their evidence by ‘trampling’ on the rights of the accused.

“We’re not just talking about one (thing), there’s a whole bunch wrong with the way this investigation went,” he said.

Crown counsel Shirley Meldrum is expected to wrap up her submissions on the voir dire today, and Justice Arne Silverman to make a ruling as early as Friday.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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