New trial dates have been set for a man whose second-degree murder trial ended abruptly when the judge declared a mistrial.
But that two-week retrial isn’t scheduled to happen for another year — it’s currently set to begin in Brandon Court of Queen’s Bench on Feb. 16, 2015.
Cameron Douglas Burnett, 53, is charged in connection with the stabbing death of Crystal Dawn Elk outside a Dennis Street home on Nov. 1, 2011.
He first went on trial last month, but Justice John Menzies declared a mistrial and discharged the jury on what would have been the sixth day.
Menzies’ concerns centred on comments and exhibits related to a videotaped statement Burnett made to police in the hours following Elk’s death.
Prior to trial, part of that video was ruled inadmissible by the agreement of Crown and defence.
At trial, the jury was shown a portion of the video which was edited to end prior to the inadmissible portion.
However, Crown attorney Jim Ross indicated to jurors that the video had previously been the subject of a voir dire — a hearing held to determine admissibility of evidence at trial — and they would only see the portion of video up to the point that Burnett refused to comment further to police who continued to press him for answers.
Menzies also noted that the video disc entered as an exhibit was marked “vetted copy,” and there was a note on the transcript shown to jurors that indicated the interview continued for four more hours after the edited statement ended.
The judge was concerned that all of this would lead the jury to speculate about what the accused said during the portion of inadmissible video they hadn’t seen.
That was “highly prejudicial” Menzies ruled and he declared a mistrial. It would have been better if jurors hadn’t known anything was said after the edited footage ends, Menzies remarked.
Defence lawyer Norm Sims was concerned that jurors would speculate that Burnett had confessed, but Ross said Burnett didn’t confess or make any other damning statements in the portion of video unseen by the jury.
Burnett remains in custody, but defence lawyer Bob Harrison has indicated that his client will seek bail at some point.
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 13, 2014