Top News

UPDATE: P.E.I. man granted new trial after successful appeal of murder conviction

Justice
Justice
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

A P.E.I. man who was found guilty of the second-degree murder of his girlfriend has been granted a new trial.

In a 19-page unanimous decision, the P.E.I. Court of Appeal allowed Joel Lawrence Clow’s appeal of his 2017 conviction.

Writing for the court of appeal, Justice John Mitchell said that based on several errors the trial judge made, he believed it was unsafe to uphold her verdict.

Clow was initially charged with the first-degree murder of Traci Lynn Lynch at a home in Pleasant Grove in 2015 and he admitted his actions caused her death.

She died of a blunt-force blow to the head and strangulation.

The police found Lynch’s body on Clow’s property in a wheelbarrow covered with items that included a blanket, a pillow, a rain slicker, a tarp, four fishing tubs and a top from a fishing bin.

During the trial before Justice Nancy Key in P.E.I. Supreme Court, the defence argued Clow should have been found guilty of manslaughter because he didn’t have the necessary intent to kill Lynch for it to be considered murder.

Instead, Key found Clow guilty in July 2017 of second-degree murder and sentenced him later that year to life in prison with no chance of parole for 17 years.

The P.E.I. Court of Appeal heard his appeal over two days in November 2018.

In the decision, Mitchell wrote that the appellate court doesn’t have the power to intervene just because the trial court did a poor job of expressing itself.

But he also wrote that the public is entitled to expect the people who have the responsibility of determining guilt or innocence will deal clearly with the essential issues and apply the law correctly.

“Neither the public nor the accused should be left in doubt about why the trial judge reached the conclusion she did,” Mitchell wrote.

During the trial, the court heard evidence about Clow’s drug and alcohol use the night he killed Lynch.

Other evidence included statements Lynch made before her death about Clow’s actions toward her, such as hiding in a crawl space under her home and trying to run her over with a truck.

Mitchell said Key erred in using Lynch’s statements about her fear of Clow to infer he had the intent to kill her.

Key also heard evidence about Clow’s actions after Lynch’s death, which included concealing her body, throwing out her belongings and hiding his truck from view.

Reviewing Key’s decision, Mitchell said she erred in law by not considering all the evidence in relation to a defence of intoxication when assessing whether Clow had the necessary intent for murder.

He wrote that Key failed to properly consider rage together with intoxication and its effect on the issue of intent.

Key also misapplied the law related to Clow’s after-the-fact conduct and she used evidence from a different trial on the issue of intent, Mitchell wrote.

After considering all of the errors, Mitchell allowed the appeal and sent the matter back to the supreme court for a retrial.

The Crown also cross-appealed Key’s verdict, arguing she should have found Clow guilty of first-degree murder because his actions amounted to forcible confinement.

Because Clow’s appeal was successful, the court of appeal didn’t address the Crown’s appeal.

Ryan.ross@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/ryanrross

Recent Stories