A MURDER case that’s taken three years to come to a conclusion ended April 26 with the judge dismissing it and telling the accused he was free to go.
Mister Justice Robert Punnett of the BC Supreme Court said Crown lawyers had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt whether Jeremy Price was guilty of second degree murder in the stabbing of his father Clifford Price on March 28, 2014.
The younger Price, age 19 at the time of the death of his father, then 50, was originally charged with manslaughter, a charge that was then elevated to second degree murder.
The final court case for Price was before Punnett alone and took place over four days last month.
Crown must prove that the accused meant to cause bodily harm or death, Punnett told court.
Police and other emergency vehicles descended on the Price residence on the 4600 Block of Goulet on the city’s southside early in the morning of March 29, 2014 in response to a 911 call. They found Clifford dead in one of the home’s two bedrooms, court heard as Punnett summarized the evidence heard at trial prior to his ruling.
Clifford had a stab wound to his sternum, a wound on the right side of his face, a chipped molar on the right jaw and cuts on his fingers, court heard.
The forensics and a pathology expert called by Crown to testify, said the death was caused by a stab wound that penetrated the heart, and a knife was found that was consistent with the wound. It was not believed to be suicide, even though Clifford had threatened to commit suicide in the past, because of the chest wound and cuts on his hands that made suicide unilkely, court heard.
The court also heard about a series of events leading to the discovery of Clifford which began the previous day when Jeremy and another brother Jordan were visiting from Prince George.
They went to Chances casino to celebrate Jordan’s birthday, and court heard that before leaving the Price house, Jordan told Clifford to be respectful to their mother and if he wasn’t, their mother would call the police.
While at Chances, their mother Ivy called to say their father was bothering her, so they decided, despite celebrating Jordan’s birthday, to go home and were “bummed out” about it, court heard.
The court had already heard that when sober, Clifford was a good father, provider but when drinking he would become obnoxious and continue to be even when it was made clear that others didn’t like it.
He would also frequently would go live on the street for a month at a time and return with bruises; other than that, the family knew little about his street life, court heard.
After Jeremy and his brother returned home from the casino, they were intoxicated and so was Clifford and their mother so events that occurred later that night aren’t known, said Punnett.
Jordan slept the night of March 28 on a couch in another room because the house had only two bedrooms.
The next morning, when he woke up, his mother was in the hall and asked him to go into the bedroom and wake up his father, court heard.
Jordan found the blanket pulled up and his dad’s shirt was sticking to the blanket, there was blood on his father’s face, his mother screamed that Clifford was dead and called 911, court heard.
Jordan then went to wake Jeremy and shook him by taking hold of him and Jeremy just said he wanted to sleep, court heard.
When he left Jeremy’s room, Jordan found a knife on the floor and put it in the drawer, court heard.
Blood later found on Jeremy’s shirt could have beeen transferred by Jordan’s hands, court heard.
His shirt had two types of DNA on it, one of which was a male, but a DNA test was never done on Jeremy for reasons not explained, said Punnett.
Police hadn’t secured the scene or any evidence and let Jeremy’s mother leave at one point to go to the neighbour’s house, so it will never be known if she had any blood on her, said Punnett.
Clifford’s life on the street was a hard life and it wasn’t know if he could have had any enemies, who might have been his killer, court heard.
There were significant gaps in Crown’s case, said Punnett.
It’s unclear what the events were after Jeremy and Jordan returned home because some evidence was ruled inadmissible during an earlier part of the case when Crown and defence presented their evidence and the judge decided on what was and wasn’t admissible for trial.
Mister Justice Robert Punnett ruled statements taken during two long interviews after Jeremy was arrested wasn’t admissible and Crown used the rest of the evidence that was admissible, said Crown prosecutor Barry Zacharias late last week.
Punnett did not give his reasons for not allowing that evidence, he added.
Crown used the other evidence it had, believing it was adequate to proceed to trial, said Zacharias.
That is the evidence Punnett ruled was circumstantial and not enough to prove Jeremy was guilty of Clifford’s death.
Crown could appeal the court’s sentence, but it hasn’t been decided if it will and Zacharias said he wasn’t the only person who would make that decision.