Lawyers for alleged serial killer argue he is not criminally responsible


Defense lawyers told the court they will argue that alleged serial killer Jeremy Skibicki is not criminally responsible for the deaths of four Indigenous women due to a mental disorder.

Skibicki has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Rebecca Contois, Morgan Harris, Marcedes Myran and an unidentified woman whom Indigenous leaders have given the name Mashkode Bizhiki’ikwe, or Buffalo Woman.

He pleaded not guilty and on Wednesday Alyssa Munce, one of his attorneys, told the court they would seek a finding during the trial that he is not criminally responsible because of a mental disorder.

“This is not a case where we are looking at the evidence to determine whether or not Mr. Skibicki committed those crimes,” he told the court Wednesday. “This is a situation where we are presenting an NCR (Not Criminally Responsible) defense.”

The move comes as they continue their attempt to dismiss the jury by arguing that “widespread” media coverage may have caused unconscious bias among selected jurors. They are pushing for the trial to be conducted solely by a judge rather than a jury, arguing their rights are being violated.

“As soon as you have a biased jury, you are not having a fair trial, and that is the right of the defendant,” Munce argued, “there is a reasonable probability that the potential jury was biased and that the jurors that were actually selected were biased. ..they have prejudices.”

Munce pointed to a poll, commissioned by the defense, that shows a strong negative opinion of Skibicki in the community: 81 percent believe he is guilty and 66 percent say they would find it unacceptable if he were not found criminally responsible. as a mental disorder.

READ MORE: Lawyers for alleged Winnipeg serial killer point to opinion poll in bid to throw out jury

The defense had called American cognitive psychologist Dr Christine Ruva as an expert witness earlier this week, due to her research into the influence pre-trial publicity can have on jurors’ decision-making.

She testified that the more publicity there is before the trial, the more bias there will be in the jury. Once an opinion of guilt has been formed through pretrial publicity, she said that is unlikely to change during the trial.

He said the safest way to avoid unconscious jury bias is to allow people to serve on the jury only if they have not heard of the case before.

The court heard today of the 12 jurors and two alternates selected, seven had indicated they had not heard of the case before.

Crown prosecutor Charles Murray told the court that Ruva’s testimony was based on mock jury trials and that the volunteers who participated in his studies did not hold the freedom of a real person in their hands.

“This is a dangerous use of social science,” he said. “We take a social scientist who says that he is grounded in a particular opinion based on those experiments, and on that basis we are asked to simply get rid of our jury system in Canada?”

He further argued that Ruva’s experience is based on the American legal system and not Canada, where there is a presumption of impartiality in selecting juries.

“The reality is that if we accept their opinion, we cannot have jury trials in high-profile cases.”

Chief Justice Glenn Joyal, who is presiding over the case, said this is a complicated issue. On Friday he will give a decision on the matter.

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