ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — A Newfoundland jury returned to the courtroom on Friday morning, asking to review evidence at the trial of a man accused of the first-degree murder of his five-year-old daughter.
Trent Butt is accused in the death of his daughter Quinn at his Carbonear, N.L., home in April 2016.
The jury at the St. John’s, N.L., trial asked Friday to hear Butt’s testimony again, and to view a security video taken from his house.
The video from the night in question showed Butt moving his truck and later putting something in it. Quinn’s voice is heard on the tape after Butt moved the truck.
In closing arguments on Thursday, the Crown pointed to the security video as evidence that the killing was premeditated. The Crown noted that Butt moved the truck before Quinn was killed, suggesting he had been planning to set fire to his home, presumably with Quinn inside.
Butt left a suicide note in the truck saying he had killed Quinn and himself to keep her apart from her mother, Butt’s estranged wife Andrea Gosse.
After closing arguments and the judge’s charge Thursday, jurors deliberated for about four hours before retiring for the evening.
They returned to the courthouse at 9 a.m. local time on Friday and re-entered the courtroom to ask the judge their question a little over two hours later.
Butt testified earlier in the trial that he did not remember killing Quinn, but said he found himself over her body and concluded he must have suffocated her. He said he decided to take his own life and set fire to the house.
Crown lawyer Lloyd Strickland said the killing was a calculated plan to inflict suffering on Gosse.
But Butt’s lawyer, Derek Hogan, told the court there was no way to know Butt’s thought process on the night Quinn was killed.
The jury is being asked to decide whether the death was planned and deliberate, which would mean Butt is guilty of first-degree murder, or if he is guilty of a lesser charge.
In his charge to the jury, Justice Donald Burrage of the provincial supreme court asked them to put aside their emotions while considering the case’s distressing evidence.
“This has proven to be an emotionally charged trial. A man stands charged with the first-degree murder of his own daughter,” Burrage said.
“You must put aside any feelings of emotion you may harbour, consider the evidence with an open mind and make your decision without sympathy, prejudice or fear.”