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Killers’ sentencing to go ahead, despite possibility of retrial over jury selection

The sentencing date for two men convicted in one of London’s most shocking murders is set, even as controversy still swirls around how their jury was picked.

Both William McDonald, 29, and Thomas Lako, 28, convicted in the shooting death of Jonathan Zak, 29, on July 31, 2012, are slated to be sentenced on April 16.

McDonald, already sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 23 years in the 2016 second-degree murder of Emmanuel Awai, was convicted of second-degree murder in Zak’s death. Lako was convicted of manslaughter.

Both men went on trial days after Bill C-75 came into effect on Sept. 19. The bill ends the 150-year old practice of peremptory challenges that allowed both the defence and Crown to vet potential jurors.


But one criminal expert says mistrial applications should be made – and accepted – to get the cases back on track at the Superior Court level before the inevitable happens.

“I expect the Court of Appeal will be sending each and every one of these cases back for a new trial,” said Michael Spratt, an Ottawa defence lawyer and host of the The Docket, a Canadian legal podcast.

Instead of wasting time and money in costly appeals, Spratt said judges should be ordering new trials right away and “at least it would be in a more timely manner.”

“That’s in everyone’s interest because witnesses and evidence, unlike fine wine, doesn’t really get better with age.”

Spratt said the Court of Appeal has been very cautious in its past rulings concerning juries  and “it seems that even the smallest problem is going to result in a new trial.”

Spratt was one of several legal experts who appeared before the parliamentary committee that drafted the law and warned about the defects, including the lack of a transitional clause explaining how the changes would be introduced.


Read Jane Sims full article: London Free Press

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