A Battleford jury found Gerald Stanley not guilty after deliberating for roughly 13 hours.
Stanley, 56, was charged with second-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of 22-year-old Colten Boushie. His high-profile trial began Jan. 29 at the Battleford Court of Queen’s Bench.
There was screaming and shouting heard in the courtroom when the jury foreman read the verdict. Deputies rushed Stanley and the jury out rear entrances, and court was immediately closed.
In his closing argument to the jury, defence lawyer Scott Spencer described Boushie’s death as a tragic accident. Spencer told the jury Stanley’s pistol misfired on Aug. 9, 2016. The fatal bullet, Spencer argued, was caused by a hang-fire, a rare type of misfire where defective ammunition creates a delay between the trigger pull and the round discharging.
According to Stanley’s testimony, which the jury heard Monday, Boushie and a group of friends arrived at his farmyard in a damaged Ford Escape and tried to steal a truck and quad. Stanley said he retrieved his Tokarev handgun from his shop and fired two warning shots after the driver of the SUV came close to running over his 28-year-old son Sheldon and collided with a parked vehicle.
After firing the warnings, Stanley said he believed the pistol was empty. He thought he had loaded only two rounds into the magazine, he testified, and when he pulled the trigger a third time nothing happened. Stanley said he saw the pistol’s slide locked to the rear indicating it was empty, and removed the pistol’s magazine.
"I brought the gun down and the barrel was sticking out the end," he said. "As far as I was concerned it was empty."
Stanley said he saw the SUV had stopped near where his wife was mowing the lawn moments before. Seeing the ride-on mower empty with the engine still running, Stanley said he sprinted towards the Ford Escape, believing his wife had been run down.
The rancher said he knelt near the front of the Escape to look underneath, but the driver revved the engine. Stanley said he stood up and tried to remove the Escape’s keys from the ignition when the final round discharged without him pulling the trigger. The round struck and killed Boushie, who was seated in the driver’s seat.
The case, which has generated significant public and media attention since the shooting occurred, has finally concluded. battlefordsNOW will bring you additional coverage and reactions to the verdict in coming days.
On Twitter: @battlefordsNOW
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