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Crown loses appeal of Jimmy Wise’s 2020 acquittal for murder

Raymond Collison, a mechanic from Chesterville, was 58 when he disappeared without a trace in August 2009. His skeletal remains were found five years later in a culvert.

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The Crown lost its appeal in the case of Jimmy Wise, who was acquitted by a jury in 2020 of murder and manslaughter in the death of Raymond Collison.

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Crown prosecutors appealed the not-guilty verdict and asked the Ontario Court of Appeal to order a second trial for Wise, arguing that the judge had ‘compromised’ the secrecy of the jury’s deliberations and that evidence had been excluded from the trial which “had a material bearing” on the acquittal. .

Wise, a retired mechanic, was a resident of a Winchester long-term care home when he was arrested in 2018 and charged in connection with Collison’s death.

He was found not guilty on December 7, 2020.

Collison, a mechanic from Chesterville, was 58 when he disappeared without a trace in August 2009. His skeletal remains were found five years later in a culvert in Morewood, near Wise’s property. Collison had been shot five times: one in the neck and four in the back.

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Wise “quickly emerged” as the prime suspect in the man’s death, according to a case summary, after investigators discovered Wise had “nurtured negative feelings” towards Collison.

But the Crown’s case was “entirely circumstantial”, according to the Court of Appeal’s summary, and the jury returned with a verdict of not guilty after six days of intense deliberation.

Those deliberations became a focal point of the Crown’s appeal, with prosecutors arguing that the trial judge had inadvertently breached the secrecy of the deliberations and should have called off the trial.

Superior Court Judge Kevin Phillips presided over Wise’s murder trial.

With the jury deadlocked at the end of the trial, allegations emerged that a juror was “intimidating” and “threatening” other members of the jury in the deliberation room.

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Phillips investigated the claims and the juror in question admitted to telling the others to “f—off” and threatening to punch another juror in the face.

It was during this inquest that a juror revealed the offending juror’s intentions: He was determined that the deadlocked jury would return with a guilty verdict.

The Crown then asked Phillips to declare a mistrial, arguing that “the cumulative effect of the investigative process violated the rule of jury secrecy and compromised the fairness of the trial”.

Phillips refused to declare a mistrial and the juror was instead dismissed.

After another day of deliberations, the remaining 11-member jury returned with the verdict of not guilty.

The Crown had also argued that the dismissal of the juror “would cause the remaining members to disapprove, not only of his conduct, but of his opinion (which was to convict).”

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The Court of Appeal said while it was ‘unfortunate’ that the juror’s voting intention was revealed, the judge carried out a ‘thorough and limited investigation’ which did not infringe on the right to a trial fair.

“No reasonable person would believe that (juror) was released because of his opinion. He was fired for his misconduct,” the appeals court wrote.

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The Crown also appealed an earlier ruling by another judge that excluded evidence from Wise’s trial after finding that police violated Wise’s Charter rights during two searches of his home.

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OPP conducted an undercover search of Wise’s home in October 2014 and took photos of several items of interest, including a weekly planner and a composition book from which several pages were removed.

Police seized the book after obtaining a second search warrant in 2016.

A forensic examination determined that “a two-page map with circled X’s had been torn out” and “the police theory was that this map revealed the location of Collison’s remains, along with the locations of other suspicious deaths and known homicides”.

The jury was not allowed to hear anything about Wise’s long and bizarre history with the law. He was a serial murder suspect in the 1980s, and after his name became public, he won an apology from the province’s solicitor general and damages.

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The composition book was ruled inadmissible at Wise’s trial, and the Court of Appeal rejected Crown arguments to overturn that decision.

“It was apparent that there were gaps in the information available to the police,” the panel wrote, and investigators “attempted to fill” those gaps with the expert opinion of a forensic psychiatrist. .

The doctor told the court he was “in the realm of the possibility that (Wise) still possessed personal items belonging to Collison, or other alleged victims…”

However, the judge found “no evidence to support this claim” and said the expert opinion was based on the general theory that serial killers keep “memories” of their victims.

The Court of Appeal rejected the Crown’s argument and upheld the judge’s decision, saying the second search warrant in 2016 “did not give rise to reasonable and probable grounds to believe that (Wise) was guilty of another murder, or that serial killers are likely to be guilty”. keep “memories” of their murders.

The court also rejected a third Crown appeal and upheld an earlier ruling that excluded “hearsay” evidence from Wise’s trial.

Collison had once told a friend Wise “threatened him to make him disappear” and said, “He doesn’t want me anymore.”

With files from Andrew Duffy

[email protected]

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