A jury has found a Saskatchewan man who shot his daughter’s boyfriend to save her from drugs guilty of manslaughter.
After nearly three days of deliberation, the jury of seven men and five women said Kim Walker was guilty of manslaughter – not second-degree murder – in the 2003 death of James Hayward.
Mr. Hayward, who was 24, was living with Mr. Walker’s then 16-year-old daughter, Jadah, in a home in Yorkton.
Mr. Walker testified that he feared for his daughter’s life as well as for his own and he was worried about Jadah because she was doing drugs after moving in with Mr. Hayward.
He said he went to police and school counsellors but nobody helped.
Defence lawyer Balfour Der said he spoke with Mr. Walker after the jury returned the verdict Thursday night.
“He’s really quite, not in a state of shock, but it’s all quite overwhelming for him,” Mr. Der said.
Mr. Der said he was disappointed with the verdict.
“I’m disappointed that the jury didn’t see their way to find him not guilty outright on the basis of self defence, but when compared to murder, manslaughter’s a victory.”
This was Mr. Walker’s second trial. He was found guilty of second-degree murder and was in prison for 3½ years before the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ordered a new trial.
The minimum sentence for manslaughter is four years, but Mr. Der said he will argue that Mr. Walker’s previous time in prison is sufficient.
Justice Ellen Gunn will hear sentencing arguments starting at 11 a.m. Friday.
During the two-week trial, court heard that Mr. Walker petitioned to have his daughter held for 72 hours in a psychiatric ward. By then her weight had dropped to about 95 pounds from 135. She went back to Mr. Hayward’s house shortly after she was released – the day of the shooting.
Mr. Walker testified that Mr. Hayward had threatened him several times after Jadah was taken to the psychiatric ward.
“James Hayward phoned to my place of employment and ... (said) that I was dead, that I was interfering in his business and we would never see Jadah again,” Mr. Walker told the jury.
Jadah Walker testified that she moved in with Mr. Hayward against the wishes of her father.
She told the jury that Mr. Hayward was a “bad influence” on her life, that he sold drugs and injected her with morphine. She also testified that Mr. Hayward had threatened her parents and had suggested that “for $3,000 you can get rid of somebody.”
Jadah said her father came to Mr. Hayward’s house on the day of the shooting and pleaded with her to come home.
She said Mr. Hayward came forward and yelled at her father to get out of the house. That’s when her dad grabbed his gun and started firing, she said.
Under cross-examination, Mr. Walker admitted he caused Mr. Hayward’s death and quietly said “Yes” when asked if he shot the unarmed man. But Mr. Walker also said he could not recall how many shots were fired or how close he was standing to Mr. Hayward.
Mr. Walker said he didn’t remember much about what happened the day of the shooting, “just being afraid for my life.”
Forensic psychiatrist Robin Menzies testified that Mr. Walker may not be able to remember details about the day of the shooting because of possible psychological trauma. Mr. Menzies said Mr. Walker may have been in a dissociative state where the mind and body aren’t connected and a person can act in an involuntary way.
In his closing arguments, defence lawyer Mr. Der told the jury that Mr. Walker acted in self-defence. Mr. Der said Mr. Walker had to protect himself because he was in a dangerous situation and that the shooting was not a calculated action.
Crown prosecutor Robin Ritter argued that Mr. Walker went to Mr. Hayward’s home with a loaded handgun and two loaded clips in reserve. Mr. Ritter told the jury Mr. Walker wasn’t welcome at Mr. Hayward’s home and had been asked to leave. Mr. Walker took “very deliberate steps” before he opened fire on Mr. Hayward, hitting him five times and killing him, Mr. Ritter said.
Mr. Hayward’s mother, Lorrie Getty, sat in the front of the courtroom throughout the trial, clutching a small photo of her son. She often wiped away tears when witnesses talked about the bullet wounds to his body.
During the course of the trial, Ms. Getty told reporters outside the courthouse that her son was not perfect, but he didn’t deserve to die.
“He was a wonderful son. He was just like everybody else’s son and I was very proud of him,” Ms. Getty said through tears.
“I was typical mom and he was a typical son and sometimes we didn’t see eye-to-eye. He sold marijuana and I was ashamed of that. And that’s something I have to live with, that even once I was ashamed, because I’m not ashamed anymore.”
Ms. Getty said she wanted to see Mr. Walker go back to jail.
“I want him to wake up every day and wonder what life would be like if he hadn’t murdered James because that’s what I have to do every day and I want him to do it too.”
This was the second trial for Mr. Walker. He was convicted of second-degree murder in 2007, but the Saskatchewan Appeal Court ordered a retrial in June 2010 after it learned that the judge and lawyers had meetings without Mr. Walker at his first trial. The Appeal Court said an accused person must be present for all of his trial.