Lillooet man convicted of second degree murder of former drug dealer wins new trial - InfoNews

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Lillooet man convicted of second degree murder of former drug dealer wins new trial

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May 14, 2019 - 11:16 AM

KAMLOOPS — A Lillooet man sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of his drug dealer has had his conviction overturned and will be tried again. 

More than two years ago, Jeffery Harris was convicted by a jury but the B.C. Court of Appeal ruled today, May 14, the trial judge erred in law by failing to instruct the jury on the defence of provocation and involuntary intoxication. 

In February 2015, Harris drove to his drug dealer’s house with two women to purchase crack or cocaine. At the time, Harris was addicted to heroin and and trafficked cocaine. Gary Mandseth, 61, was his dealer and supplier. Harris testified during his trial whenever he would go to Mandseth’s house to purchase drugs, he would often get injected by him with heroin.

Harris says when he took heroin, he would become subdued or fall asleep. A Crown witness confirmed this and said it was normal for Harris to fall asleep or nod off.

“She never saw him act in an aggressive manner,” the decision says.

Prior to the incident, Harris said he had tried cocaine intravenously and said it was very different than heroin. When he would inject cocaine, he would see shadows and become very frightened.

When Harris went in to pick up the drugs from Mandseth’s house he expected to be injected with heroin but realized it was cocaine and became very frightened and said he felt like he was dying.

From this incident, Harris said “everything went south” and he has no memory of attacking Mandseth. An autopsy of the victim’s body revealed the cause of death were stab wounds to his chest. Other injuries included blunt force head injuries, scalp lacerations, puncture wounds and fractured fingers.

Defence lawyers at the time called an expert witness in the field of psychology and after interviewing Harris said it was likely he suffered from a state of automatism during the commission of the offence.

“She defined automatism as an individual ‘under severe traumatic, psychological blow…(where) cognition and the action split in the individual’s mind and the individual is not under conscious control.”

A forensic toxicologist also testified saying the effects of intravenous cocaine differ from injecting heroin.

"The accused unknowingly received intravenous cocaine instead of heroin," the decision says.

However the decision says the judge made no error in his instructions on non-mental disorder automatism.

To read the full decision go here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Karen Edwards or call (250) 819-3723 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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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2019
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