Legal arguments underway in Armstrong manslaughter trial

Logan Scott
Image Credit: Facebook

VERNON - The man on trial for killing Armstrong mother Jillian McKinty evaded police twice in the months following her 2013 death, court heard today.

Salmon Arm man Logan Scott pleaded not guilty Monday morning, March 27, in Vernon Supreme Court to manslaughter in relation to McKinty’s death. He also pleaded not guilty to one count of theft, for allegedly stealing McKinty’s cell phone and laptop. Scott, who is in his mid-30s, was dressed in black pants and a grey, collared shirt.

Court heard today in a voir dire — a trial within a trial to determine if certain evidence can be used — that McKinty was found dead in her duplex on Nov. 27, 2013. Crown counsel Shirley Meldrum said an upstairs neighbour heard McKinty’s children yelling early in the morning and went downstairs to investigate.

An autopsy concluded McKinty died of asphyxiation, but it wasn’t until her parents reported her cell phone and computer missing that police started investigating the death as suspicious, Meldrum said.

The RCMP arranged a meeting with Scott for Jan. 20, 2014, but he didn’t show up. On Jan. 21, he was caught speeding through a school zone in Crofton and when police tried to pull him over, he got out and ran. He was eventually tracked down and returned to the detachment.

Scott wasn’t arrested in relation to McKinty’s death until Aug. 27, 2014, at which time he gave three police statements. In the third, he allegedly admitted to being present when McKinty died. He said she wrapped a sweater around her neck and caused her own death while they were having sexual relations, Meldrum said. His DNA was found on McKinty’s clothing.

Jillian McKinty, 27, was found dead in her Armstrong home Nov. 27, 2013.
Jillian McKinty, 27, was found dead in her Armstrong home Nov. 27, 2013.
Image Credit: Facebook

Lawyers are expected to spend the week arguing over the admissibility of Scott’s statements to police, and defence counsels Glenn Verdurmen and Paul Danyliu are also making a charter rights argument. Following the voir dire, a two-week trial before Justice Arne Silverman is set to begin April 24.

Const. Gina MacRae, the officer who attempted to pull Scott over in Crofton, was on the stand Monday morning describing her interactions with the accused. She was conducting a routine speed check outside a local school around 9:20 a.m. when Scott drove by at 53 km/h. She put on her lights, and then her siren, but Scott didn’t stop. Instead, he got out of the vehicle and fled on foot through residential yards. Police were unable to catch him.

Later, around 4:30 p.m., while responding to a different file, MacRae noticed the accused walking near a 7-Eleven. She said he was on crutches, had a white hospital bag and appeared to have injured his foot.

She said he “just stood there” when she approached him and was polite as she arrested him for obstruction. MacRae testified she asked Scott if he understood what was happening while she read him his charter rights, and said he replied ‘yes.’ When she asked him why he fled earlier, he responded that he drank a 24-pack of beer all the way from Salmon Arm to Crofton.

Back at the RCMP detachment, MacRae began looking through and processing the items seized from the vehicle Scott was driving. She found a bag containing 17.9 grams of marijuana, a pellet gun, a ferry receipt, and a black Samsung Galaxy Note cell phone.

MacRae said she accessed the cell phone to look for contacts that said ‘home’ or ‘mom’ for identification purposes. She found a text message on the phone, and while she couldn’t remember the exact words in court, said it was along the lines of: ‘hey, the cops were here looking for you and left a card.’

Court later heard that the woman who sent the text message was Scott’s wife.

The sender also texted a photo of the card, which was for an officer with the South East District Major Crimes Unit. MacRae phoned the number, and was told the unit wanted to speak with Scott.

MacRae kept Scott for the remainder of the day, but said she had no grounds to hold him longer than that and drove him to a family member’s place on Jan. 22, telling him he would have to come back later to get his truck and possessions.

Defence counsel Glenn Verdurmen suggested MacRae did not tell Scott about the main reason he was asked to return to the detachment the next day: To meet with the officer from Major Crimes.

“You knew there was another reason,” Verdurmen said. “The other reason was to facilitate a statement (for the corporal).”

Verdurmen also pointed out a search warrant is needed when going through someone’s phone, something MacRae did not have.

Under cross examination, MacRae agreed she did not seize the phone as part of the Duncan file, or for an ‘assist file.’ She said her only intention in opening the phone was to identify who it belonged to.

The voir dire is scheduled to continue throughout the week.

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