Jury has questions as deliberations continue in Halifax jail cell death case

Jury has questions as deliberations continue in Halifax jail cell death case

HALIFAX — A Nova Scotia jury will return to deliberations Sunday morning in the case of two special constables charged in the death of an impaired 41-year-old man who suffocated in a Halifax police jail cell.

Daniel Fraser and Cheryl Gardner have been on trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court on charges of criminal negligence causing the death of Corey Rogers on June 16, 2016.

The 12-person jury sent a series of notes to Justice Kevin Coady on Saturday asking for clarifications on the essential legal ingredients needed to convict the constables.

Under the Criminal Code of Canada, criminal negligence is defined as completing or omitting any duty in a way that shows “wanton or reckless disregard” for the lives or safety of others.

However, a note said jurors are unclear on a preliminary legal test of whether the special constables’ actions were a “marked and substantial departure” from what a reasonably prudent person would do in the circumstances.

At 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Coady committed to providing a written copy early Sunday morning of additional oral explanations he provided on this point during the deliberations.

As of 5 p.m. Saturday, the jury had been sitting for almost 11 hours.

The Crown has argued the death was caused by the constables’ failure to follow basic safety practices, such as entering Rogers’ cell and gently shaking him to see if he was conscious.

Prosecutor Chris Vanderhooft has also said Fraser and Gardner failed to fulfil their duty to care for Rogers by not removing a spit hood arresting officers placed on him, given the inmate’s extremely intoxicated condition.

The jury was shown video of Rogers heaving in a cell while wearing the spit hood, and an autopsy suggested the inmate had vomited into the mask and died from suffocation.

The defendants have argued they were following the usual procedures when checking Rogers’ cell, and the threshold for a criminal code conviction has not been met.

“All of us who work for a living know there are written rules and there are rules. You can’t follow every rule blindly. You have to adapt the rules to your workplace,” defence lawyer David Bright told jurors earlier this week.

“This was not in my respectful submission to you, criminal negligence. There was no marked departure from a baseline.”

Both constables testified in their defence. Special constables are employed by the police department and are appointed to specialized duties as peace officers, including the booking of prisoners, but they are not considered police officers.

Fraser said he had been told by a superior that the requirement to rouse inmates only applied in “high risk” cases, and he did not consider Rogers to be such a case.

“He seemed to be sleeping it off,” he testified.

He also said an arresting officer told him Rogers was “playing possum” when he appeared unable to stand in the entrance area to the jail.

Gardner testified she didn’t notice anything unusual about the prisoner when she checked on him in his cell.

She said she looked in on Rogers several times while he was lying face down in a so-called “dry cell” and that on the first occasion he moaned and moved his shoulder in her direction.

However Gardner said she never entered the cell to check on him and assumed that he was just “sleeping it off” when he could be seen breathing but didn’t respond to her later questions.

Vanderhooft said video evidence showed the last time Rogers moved was between 11:38 and 11:41 p.m. on June 15, but it was two hours later when Fraser called out to Rogers and finally decided to enter the cell and remove the spit hood.

“Unfortunately it was too late. Corey had vomited long before and could not clear his own airway because the spit hood was covering his mouth,” the prosecutor said.

The jury is gathering at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday to receive the new written instructions.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta identifies 573 new COVID-19 cases, 13 deaths on Saturday

There are currently 9,727 active cases of the virus in the province

A firetruck sits in front of a home on Harvey Close in Red Deer Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Firefighters respond to Red Deer fire

Red Deer firefighters responded to a blaze in the north part of… Continue reading

(Courtesy photo)
Red Deer rental prices drop slightly

Renting an apartment in Red Deer became slightly cheaper last month. Rentals.ca… Continue reading

Rylee Trippel was last seen Friday. (Photo contributed by RCMP)
Red Deer RCMP looking for missing teen

Police are looking for a teen who was last seen in the… Continue reading

The Red Deer Outreach Centre’s Adopt a Family program raised $60,000 in 2020. (Photo courtesy Red Deer Outreach Centre’s Facebook)
Red Deer Outreach Centre’s Adopt a Family program raised $60K in 2020

The executive director of the Red Deer Outreach Centre says she is… Continue reading

Former Alberta Premier Rachel Notley shakes hands with Joel Ward, former Red Deer College President and CEO, as Notley announces that the college is on the path to grant degrees. Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan says university status is not a necessary condition for offering degrees. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Future of Red Deer University increasingly uncertain

MLA’s college update says RDC more like SAIT and NAIT than a university

RCMP say missing teen Hope Tivendale has been found. (File photo by Advocate staff)
No foul play suspected after burned body of homeless person found in North Vancouver

VANCOUVER — A burned body, believed to be of a homeless person,… Continue reading

The central zone experienced a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases Thursday, rising from 454 to 508 active cases over the past 24 hours, with 10 people in hospital. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Spartan Bioscience says Health Canada has approved its rapid COVID-19 test

TORONTO — An Ottawa company says it’s received approval from Health Canada… Continue reading

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole defends decision to back, then oust, Sloan

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says he was once willing to… Continue reading

Quebec Premier Francois Legault pauses as he speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021 at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
Non-essential travel ban would violate Constitution but courts might allow it: expert

MONTREAL — Fear that Quebecers will catch a new variant of COVID-19… Continue reading

A woman walks outside the Roberta Place Long Term Care home in Barrie, Ont. on Monday, January 18, 2021. The devastating toll of COVID-19 on long-term care residents in Canada has underscored the need for increased public funding for home care, advocates say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
COVID-19 deaths in long-term care reveal need for home supports: advocates

VANCOUVER — The devastating toll of COVID-19 on long-term care residents in… Continue reading

A Chinese flag is illuminated by sunshine in the Hall of Honour on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Thursday, September 22, 2016. China is threatening retaliation against Canada after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned a new security law giving Beijing more control over Hong Kong.. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Diplomats contact Canadian held for over 2 years in China

BEIJING — Canadian officials have met online with former diplomat Michael Kovrig,… Continue reading

Marc Gold (centre) stands with senators André Pratte (left) and Peter Harder before being sworn in during a ceremony in the Senate on Parliament Hill, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Senator urges study of vexing barriers to using secret information in court cases

OTTAWA — A Senate committee should examine the hurdles that make it… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Winnipeg ticket holder wins Friday night’s $60 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — A ticket holder from Winnipeg won Friday night’s whopping $60… Continue reading

Most Read