Second-degree murder trial on hold until January

Jury not back until Jan. 7 for 2015 stabbing death trial while lawyers argue evidence issues

Daniel Boyd Sawyer.

Daniel Boyd Sawyer.

A second-degree murder trial in Red Deer remains mired in evidence issues.

Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Bill Hopkins told jurors Tuesday they will not be needed until Jan. 7 — a significant turn of events for a trial that was initially expected to wrap up on Dec. 7.

The seven-woman, five-man jury last heard evidence on Nov. 27 and were expecting to hear witness testimony on Tuesday.

Since the trial for Daniel Boyd Sawyer began on Nov. 15, time and again the jury has been dismissed by Hopkins so Crown prosecutors and defence lawyers can argue evidence issues in voir dires.

Often described as a trial within a trial, voir dires are typically held to consider the admissibility of evidence. A publication ban covers all evidence heard during a voir dire when there is a jury involved.

After yet another delay in testimony on Nov. 30, Hopkins told the jury he understood they may be feeling frustrated, but assured them the work lawyers were doing in their absence was productive.

Crown prosecutor Ed Ring said the nine and 10 voir dires in the case are now before the judge. The voir dires may run until Dec. 21, when the court closes for the Christmas break.

Sawyer is accused of stabbing Alan Beach, 31, to death in a brawl outside the Blarney Stone Pub on Nov. 18, 2015. Badly beaten and suffering a dozen knife wounds, Beach stumbled back into the pub and collapsed following the 9 p.m. altercation.

Beach, who was five foot six and weighed 115 pounds, died later in hospital.

The trial began with disturbing testimony from Calgary medical examiner Dr. Tera Jones. Beach had wounds all over his body, including deep stab wounds that sliced into his lung and cut the femoral artery in his leg.

Several bar patrons testified about the chaotic scene in the now-closed pub following the stabbing.

Some of the most gripping testimony came from Daniel Travis Cooper, 34, a friend of Beach’s who was held back at knifepoint while his buddy was jumped by several men, beaten and stabbed.

Cooper said he saw Sawyer stab Beach in the left leg.

Under cross-examination, defence lawyer Chris Archer picked apart Cooper’s story, pointing out Beach was stabbed in the right leg, and suggested Sawyer, who was standing on the victim’s left side, could not have done it.

Archer also grilled Cooper on why he did not tell police immediately after the incident that he saw a knife in Sawyer’s hands. That only came up in testimony he gave in a preliminary inquiry much later.

Cooper insisted he was telling the truth.

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