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Canada Ontario high court overturns attempted murder convictions for HIV-positive man

Ontario’s highest court has overturned three attempted murder convictions for an HIV-positive man accused of trying to infect his sexual partners, citing errors in the trial judge’s instructions to the jury.

In a recent decision, the Court of Appeal for Ontario said the judge overseeing Steven Boone’s case did not properly instruct the jury on the mental state required for a conviction on attempted murder.

It said the judge should have explained Boone could only be found guilty on those counts if jurors believed beyond a reasonable doubt that he intended to kill his sexual partners through his actions or thought their death from AIDS was a “virtually certain consequence” of HIV infection.

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It said prosecutors may decide whether to move ahead with a new trial on those charges, as well as one count of administering a noxious thing – a charge that had been stayed by the trial judge.

However, the court upheld a conviction for aggravated sexual assault that Boone also challenged, as well as stays on two other counts of administering a noxious thing.

Prosecutors alleged Boone set out to infect his partners with HIV by lying about or failing to disclose his status.

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