The fate of accused murderer Joelon Verma now rests in the hands of the jury.
The six men and six women tasked with determining whether or not he is guilty of first degree murder—or the lesser included offence of second degree murder—begin deliberations around 2 p.m. Tuesday.
The case, Justice Alison Beames told the jury, is a circumstantial one. In determining whether or not Verma is guilty of shooting Brittney Lee Irving to death, they must be satisfied that he was the killer.
They must also determine whether the Crown has proved Irving died on or about April 6, 2010 in the Kelowna area, whether the accused committed an unlawful act by killing Irving and whether the accused intended kill or cause bodily harm that would likely lead to death.
If they are not satisfied the Crown has proved beyond a reasonable doubt any of those four elements, they are to find Verma not guilty.
If they are satisfied of those four points, the jury should find Verma guilty of second degree murder, Beames said.
If they also find that the killing was planned and deliberate, they are to convict Verma of first degree murder.
Irving, 24, was last seen alive on April 6, 2010, while she was allegedly working on a large marijuana deal with Verma, who was also her boyfriend.
It is alleged she had marijuana worth more than $100,000 with her.
Verma’s cousin, Jason Labonte, testified that he saw Irving with Verma at his house on April 6. The pair left separately.
Later that day, Verma contacted Labonte to help him after he got the vehicle he was driving stuck in the bush, the court heard.
After Labonte took police to that location, a police dog found Irving’s body nearby. She was wearing clothing and shoes belonging to the man Verma is said to have borrowed a vehicle from on the day she was last seen alive. She had been shot four times, including twice in the back.
During closing arguments, however, defence pointed out there is no direct evidence to link Verma, who was cooperative with police, to the crime and evidence that he was involved in the large pot deal was vague.
As well, the state of Irving’s body when it was found doesn’t support the conclusion Irving died on April 6, defence argued.
Irving’s body was found off McCulloch Forest Service Road on April 26, 2010, nearly three weeks after she was reported missing.
Once the jury reaches a verdict, results will be posted at www.kelownacapnews.com.
By Cheryl Wierda, Capital News contributor