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Haverty murder trial Day 10: Closing arguments: a cold-blooded murder or a desparate act of self-defence?

12-person jury set to retire on Friday to deliberate the fate of the man who shot and killed Chris Schweitzer
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Sean Haverty's defence lawyer said Thursday his client's killing of Chris Schweitzer was self-defence, the end result of an act of stupidity fuelled by liquid courage.

The prosecution said it was a planned, premeditated murder, where the man pulling the trigger waited for his victim to come home before going to his house to kill him.

Haverty's three-week old first degree murder trial entered the final stages Thursday, with defence counsel Ari Goldkind and Crown attorney Judith MacDonald making their closing statements to the 12-person jury.

Justice Nancy Mossip will conclude her charge to the jury Friday morning and then they will retire to deliberate the fate of Haverty.

First degree murder, second degree murder, manslaughter and an acquittal based on self-defence are all possibilities.

"You must be certain or sure of Mr. Haverty's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If you think he's 'probably guilty' he must be acquitted," said Goldkind, the first to address the seven-woman, five-man jury.

"It's not 'maybe.' It's not 'probably.' Probably doesn't get you there," defence counsel said.

Goldkind, whose closing statement lasted 75 minutes, reiterated the fact that this is not a "whodunit," but a question of why the shooting occurred.

"This is simply about one question. Why?" he said.

Goldkind told the jury that the onus is not on Haverty to prove it was self-defence, but on the Crown to prove that it wasn't.

"That needs to be at the top of your mind," he said.

In recounting some of the evidence, Goldkind focused on the fact that Haverty was extremely drunk that day, that there was clearly an argument at the door to Schweitzer's home, that Haverty was struck in the face with a glass bong and that Haverty told police from the moment that he was arrested that he acted in self-defence.

He asked rhetorically why someone would have a conversation with someone they planned on killing. Why they would wait to be hit in the face before shooting. Why they wouldn't make plans to conceal themselves or make a getaway.

"The theory of a planned and deliberate murder simply does not add up," Goldkind said.

"We all know that Sean Haverty shot Chris Schweitzer. We know that because Sean Haverty told you that. But that's not the end of your discussions, that's the beginning," Goldkind told the jury.

"The critical question in this case is why did Sean Haverty pull the trigger? That's the critical question?"

The court gallery had its largest crowd of the trial Thursday. It included, as it has all along, members of Schweitzer's family, but also officers who appeared as witnesses in the trial along with Pam Feenstra, Haverty's longtime partner who testified for the prosecution earlier in the trial.

Crown attorney MacDonald said Chris Schweitzer was the one acting in self-defence.

"This was a planned and deliberate murder," she said in her closing remarks, which lasted roughly an hour.

"The motive was simple: Sean Haverty simply didn't like his mentally-challenged neighbour. The evidence paints an undeniable clear picture."

She said Haverty went over there earlier in the day and Schweitzer wasn't home so he "was waiting" for him to return.

"Understandably Christopher Schweitzer grabbed a bong to defend himself in his own home ... he was concerned for his safety," MacDonald said.

As for Haverty's insistence that he had the gun in his pocket and only pulled it out after being hit in the face with a glass bong, MacDonald said that simply wasn't the case.

"Would he have not pulled that gun out to make that threat? It's the Crown's position that he did. If you were so afraid of this person, you wouldn't make that threat without having the gun out."

She said Haverty's own testimony on the witness stand "simply cannot be believed."

"He didn't run away from the scene and that's because he knew he'd shot Christopher Schweitzer. He carried out his plan to kill him.

"He carried out his plan and he knew it."



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Tony Saxon

About the Author: Tony Saxon

Tony Saxon has had a rich and varied 20 year career as a journalist, an award winning correspondent, columnist, reporter, feature writer and photographer.
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