Thursday, October 29, 2020

Man acquitted of manslaughter in ‘tragic’ death of district fire chief


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Without that piece of direct evidence of the victim having been put into a fatal stranglehold, the judge said she couldn’t rely on the prosecution’s circumstantial case that centred on the testimony of experienced forensic pathologist Dr. Edward Tweedie.

Tweedie, a veteran of thousands of post-mortem autopsies, gave a list of reasons for his conclusion that an armlock led to the loss of blood and oxygen flow to the brain, which was the cause of death for St. Louis after triggering cardiac arrest.

“The Crown failed to prove causation beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Pomerance. “Both men were aggressors.”

Surrounded by supporters, Michael Hiller, 45, leaves Superior Court of Justice in downtown Windsor on Tuesday, March 3, 2020, after his second day on the witness stand. The Windsor man is on trial and charged with assault and manslaughter for the March 29, 2018, death of Lakeshore district fire chief Joe St. Louis, 51, following a confrontation between the two men in Windsor on March 24, 2018. Hiller was acquitted on Oct.13, 2020. Photo by Nick Brancaccio /Windsor Star

While no longer a couple, Hiller was still legally married and “sporadically” living with Mary Botosan, who had begun an intimate relationship with St. Louis, 51, himself a married man. Hiller encountered the two at a neighbourhood pub that night and witnesses testified to some tense verbal interactions between the men.

This will remain a tragedy

Hiller was first to return to the nearby home after being told to leave Jake’s Joint, and there was a physical confrontation a short time later after St. Louis escorted Botosan to the door. “Gaps in the narrative” about what happened next, said the judge, made the case more challenging for the prosecution, which described Hiller as angry and jealous that night.

Tweedie pointed to a broken larynx bone in the deceased’s neck and telltale blood spotting under the eyelids as signs of neck compression that triggered cardiac arrest and death. But under questioning during the trial by both the defence and the judge, Tweedie conceded there were “alternate” explanations for each of the separate post-mortem observations that he concluded added up to guilt on the part of the accused.

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