The second degree murder trial of Keegan Nelson-Smith is now adjourned.
Monday morning at Court of King’s Bench in Prince Albert the Crown rested their case and the defense opted not to call any of their own witnesses. Nelson-Smith is charged in the death of Muhammad Venne, who died after being stabbed in June of 2020.
In closing submissions to Justice R.W. Danyluk, who is hearing the case himself without a jury, the Crown laid out what they believed to be the timeline of events. In their timeline the Crown argued there were two fights which took place on the night in question, with the second fight resulting in the death of Venne. In making their argument for a conviction the Crown stressed they were able to bring forward three witnesses who identified the accused, with two of them testifying he was involved in a fight with Venne. The Crown as well stressed that the second witness, Frank Mckenzie didn’t know the accused but was still able to identify him.
“He states that he remembers his (Nelson-Smith’s) face vividly,” the Crown argued.
Justice Danyluk did stop the Crown at times during the closing submission and asked questions of the Crown, one of the questions being about an inconsistent statement given by one of the witnesses which miss identified the suspect. The Crown argued the witness simply mixed up the two names and said the evidence supports this claim.
During their final submission the defense worked to call into question the credibility of much of the eyewitness testimony. Nelson-Smith’s lawyer, Michael Nolin raised a number of issues during his submission, a major one being that many witnesses had admitted to drinking heavily at the time and also using drugs. He added many had also not slept in quite some time.
The defense as well questioned if the witnesses actually saw the fatal fight as it was happening or if they started paying attention after the fight had ended when they heard one of the other witnesses yell out.
“By the time they’re paying attention it’s Corey Clarke’s holding him (Venne),” said Nolin.
Nolin as well brought up the testimony of Dennis Nelson-Mcleod and the fact that the day after Venne’s death there were people who were blaming Nelson-Mcleod and another man for Venne’s death. The defense lawyer as well raised the possibility that witnesses may have made the decision to implicate Nelson-Smith as being responsible for Venne’s death because they were afraid of Nelson-Mcleod.
After hearing the final submissions from both Crown and defense Justice Danyluk reserved his decision in the case to April 17.