Second degree murder or manslaughter?
That’s the decision left to B.C. Supreme Court Justice Miriam Maisonville who’s expected to make her ruling May 6 in Campbell River.
Justice Maisonville is presiding over the case against 20-year-old Dakota Johnny of Port Hardy.
He’s charged with second degree murder of Cindy Scow who also lived on the Tsulquate First Nations Reserve.
The 28-year-old mother of seven died following a severe beating she received on the night of Sept. 9, 2012.
She was found partially clothed, covered in blood and dying in an abandoned house on the reserve.
An autopsy revealed Scow had died of blunt force trauma – perhaps six blows to the head – and was heavily impaired by alcohol at the time of her death.
Johnny was arrested shortly after Scow was found.
During trial, witnesses saw Johnny and Scow drinking and laughing together earlier in the evening, across the road from the abandoned house.
Johnny was arrested just after midnight at his father’s home.
He had blood on his shirt as well as his shoes and he would ask the arresting officer about how many years he might get in jail.
“What do you think the years are going to be if you guys find out it was me? Probably like 28?” Johnny asked the officer.
In his summation, Crown prosecutor David Fitzsimmons said it’s unknown why the violent assault with a wooden dowel occurred, but the scene was “horrific” with Scow’s blood splatters on the wall and ceiling.
“(Johnny) caused her bodily harm he knew was likely to cause her death,” said Fitzsimmons.
However, defence lawyer Doug Marion believes this, “has always been a manslaughter case.”
Johnny did not testify on his own behalf.
However, a defence witness said that Johnny reacted violently after Scow had bitten his penis while they were engaged in consensual sex.
“If she did assault him, his reaction was excessive,” Marion told the court.
The decision now rests with the judge and Fitzsimmons acknowledged it’s not a straight-forward matter.
“The Crown says it’s a simple case, but not an easy case,” he said. “Dakota Johnny is the person responsible for the death of Cindy Scow. That’s the easy part. The hard part is if it’s second degree murder or manslaughter?”