A Salmon Arm man accused of choking an Armstrong woman to death has been acquitted of manslaughter.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Arne Silverman said his verdict was based on several factors that fail to conclusively prove that Logan Scott was responsible for the death of Armstrong’s Jillian McKinty by asphyxiation in November 2013.
Silverman said the absence of any evidence of a struggle was troubling to the Crown’s case, as was expert testimony by forensic pathologist Annie Sauvageau, who questioned Scott’s explanation of how consensual kinky sex between he and McKinty led to her demise.
Sauvageau said if someone is asphyxiated, they do not lie passively for several minutes, as Scott told police, before he discovered an article of clothing around her neck may have impaired her ability to breathe.
But while the pathologist offered her expert opinion to counter Scott’s story, she admitted in testimony she could not say with 100 per cent surety he was responsible for her death.
“I have no doubt that Dr. Sauvageau believes what she says, but the evidence is not there to back it up,” Silverman stated.
The Crown’s circumstantial evidence centred around Scott and McKinty having sex on Nov. 26, that he “cleaned the scene” after McKinty fell unconscious, that he removed and discarded her cell phone and laptop computer and subsequently lied to police in interviews about how she died.
But that was countered by the initial police investigation finding no evidence of foul play at McKinty’s home on Nov. 26, which was subsequently supported by the autopsy done two days later.
McKinty’s body was discovered by her neighbour, Jody North.
It wasn’t until McKinley’s parents realized their daughter’s cell phone was missing that police looked into her phone records and discovered her communications through direct calls and texts with Scott.
When questioned initially in January 2014, Scott said he did not visit McKinty before she died because he felt guilty about having an affair with her while involved with another woman at the time.
But multiple inconsistencies in Scott’s account of what happened that night at McKinty’s home led police to eventually file charges against him in August 2014.
Silverman said it was troubling to him that no evidence of a struggle was found to suggest that consensual sex between Scott and McKinty was ramped up to a physical altercation that led to her death by asphyxiation.
“There should have been marks on her neck or elsewhere to indicate she was struggling to stay alive and that was not evident,” Silverman said.
“So there is reasonable doubt that her death was caused by physical assault.”
Scott was convicted on a second charge of theft under $5,000 related to the missing cell phone and laptop, which he admitted to police he threw away on a roadside.
The phone was retrieved by police but the laptop was never found.
Both Crown and the defence were to make final submissions related to the theft charge before sentencing.