Jury begins deliberations in Jayme Pasieka first-degree murder trial

A jury began its deliberations to determine the fate of Jayme Pasieka on Thursday evening.

The 32-year-old Edmonton man is on trial on two counts of first-degree murder, and four counts each of attempted murder and aggravated assault. He is accused of stabbing six people at the west-end warehouse where he worked on Feb. 28, 2014.

Two men, Fitzroy Harris and Thierno Bah, died in the attack.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Donna Shelley spent more than two hours reading instructions to the jury of nine women and three men.

To convict Pasieka of first-degree murder, the jury must find the Crown proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he intended to kill the men or to harm them in such a way that death would be likely.

The jury must also find the killings were planned and deliberate.

Shelley told the jury they must consider all the evidence, including Pasieka's state of mind leading up to and during the stabbings.

During the trial, the jury heard from several people who spoke to that, including witnesses, a psychiatrist who assessed him one year later, and from Pasieka himself.

In his closing argument, defence lawyer Peter Royal said his client should not be fully acquitted of the crimes.

But he argued the jury should find him him guilty of the lesser, but included, offence of manslaughter. The jury can also find him guilty of second-degree murder, on the most serious charges.

Case 'unusual and tragic'

Both Royal and Crown prosecutor Kimberly Goddard agreed that Pasieka suffered from an acute mental illness when he attacked his co-workers.

But whether his schizophrenia affected his ability to form intent and formulate a plan was in question during the trial.

Royal called the case "unusual and tragic."

"This was a deeply disturbed young man," he said in his closing argument, adding that Pasieka's mental state at the time of the attacks in 2014 "permeated" the case.

A psychiatrist testified during the trial that Pasieka suffers from a major mental illness, likely schizophrenia.

Pasieka told the psychiatrist who interviewed him a year after the attack that he had been hearing voices for more than a year. Colleagues commented that they often saw Pasieka talking and smiling to himself.

Pasieka himself testified during the trial that he felt a distinct "suffering" and that he had a "bit of a nervous breakdown" at the time of the attacks.

He said at various times that he just "lost it," that he didn't have a reason for what he did, and that his actions were a cry for help.

At one point, he said he wanted to attack people, in order to get arrested, and eventually get help for his mental illness.

Thinking was 'logical'

But the Crown said a diagnosis of schizophrenia alone is "not sufficient to raise a reasonable doubt of his ability to form intent."

She pointed to video footage taken at a military supply store just before Pasieka went to work at the west-end Loblaws warehouse.

The video shows Pasieka looking at knives on display, waiting for service, and interacting with staff. Goddard said he does not appear to be interacting with any unseen people or figures, that would suggest hallucinations.

Pasieka wanted two Uzi-brand switch blades, but when the store manager told him there was only one in stock, he decided to get another brand.

Pasieka later told the court that he decided to buy two knives in case one got "dull."

"I'm going to suggest his brain is very logical and capable of goal oriented behaviour ... it's not random, it's not wild," Goddard said.

Goddard also pointed to witness testimony at the time of the attack. They said he was not frenzied and one person described him as "angry but calculated."

A 9-1-1 tape played in court caught Pasieka yelling the words "die."

"He's actively stabbing someone while he uses the word 'die.' 

"How can the intent not be to kill?"

Goddard said Pasieka had an organized mind at the time of the offence.

"You might find the outcome of his logic unsettling, troubling. But I'd suggest the thinking behind it is logical and rational on all points."