CALGARY — A judge is to rule next week — 4 1/2 months after the trial began — in the case of a man accused of torturing and beating his roommate.
Justice Sheilah Martin was expected to give her decision Monday on a lengthy “trial within a trial” in which the defence called for a judicial stay of proceedings. But she opted to postpone her ruling until Feb. 6.
“The stay decision is not being done today,” Martin said Monday.
“I believe there have been adequate arguments on both sides that would allow me to make a decision.”
She is now scheduled to rule on the stay application and then immediately give her verdict on Dustin Paxton’s guilt or innocence.
If Martin grants the stay, Paxton could walk free.
Paxton’s lawyer called for the stay because of evidence he says shows police coaching a witness who was called to testify against the accused.
The legal argument, which began in December, saw counsel for both sides called as witnesses.
Defence lawyer Jim Lutz testified that two different spectators approached him to report that they had seen a senior Calgary police officer coaching a witness from the gallery. Lutz said a court clerk reported seeing the same thing.
Lutz also said he asked that a key witness who had an outstanding warrant be arrested, but the court’s sheriff was told by the Crown not to make the arrest.
The Crown had argued against Martin giving both rulings on the same day.
Chief prosecutor Lloyd Robertson suggested that both sides may want to make further arguments if Martin grants the stay or finds problems with some of the evidence from the trial.
“If the stay is granted, that would mean there is no further trial. The Crown might want to reflect upon the stay ruling,” he said.
Martin said she is responsible for weighing the evidence and has no further time for more comment.
“At this stage I’m in charge of that.”
Paxton was charged in August 2010 with aggravated assault, sexual assault and forcible confinement. He has pleaded not guilty. It’s alleged he beat and tortured his former roommate and business partner over a two-year period.
The 28-year-old alleged victim, whose name is under a court-ordered publication ban, testified that he was starved, humiliated and beaten — sometimes severely — on an almost daily basis and forced to perform sexual favours for Paxton.
He testified that he took the abuse because he didn’t want to appear to be a sissy and had dreams of making big money in Calgary.
He was dropped off near death at a Regina hospital in April 2010.