Legal experts are in shock over the verdict in the Travis Vader murder trial.
University of Alberta Criminal Law Professor Stephen Penny says Mr. Justice Denny Thomas based his verdict on Section 230 of the Criminal Code of Canada. But Penny and other legal scholars say that section of the criminal code is still on the books despite being ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada 26 years ago. Penny says it’s inexplicable and shocking. “It really defies explanation. I struggle to imagine that something like this could have happened, that the judge would not have been aware of this, that the staff or law clerks who were assisting … that no-one would have picked up on this.”
Vader was convicted of second degree murder in the disappearance of St. Albert seniors Lyle and Marie McCann. They vanished on a camping trip to BC in July 2010. Days after they left, their burned out motor home was found near Hinton. Penny says it’s hard to say what will happen next, but this verdict likely can’t stand. “Unless there’s some way of finding evidence in the record, findings of the judge, to support a finding that he intended to cause their death, or was aware that death was possible, then this conviction will have to be overturned. Whether or not we then see a manslaughter conviction, or a new trial, remains to be seen.”
The defence has already indicated it plans to appeal the conviction.