Final arguments presented at trial of N.W.T. man charged in son's death

Trial of man charged in son's death begins in Inuvik

Lawyers made their closing arguments at the third day of the Wayne McDonald trial in Inuvik, N.W.T., on Friday.

The 57-year-old is charged with manslaughter in relation to the death of his son Gary McDonald on April 4, 2016.

As the Crown and defence went over the details of the incident, it was clear that both sides agreed — that for most of the struggle — Wayne was using self-defence.

The trial began Wednesday.

Crown prosecutor Alex Godfrey said that the 28-year-old Gary initiated the physical altercation that occurred in the community of Tsiigehtchic, and for "much of it" Wayne was defending himself against his son.

But in an Inuvik courtroom Friday, the prosecutor pointed out the events that happen after Wayne took control of the fight.

The prosecutor recalled when Nellie McDonald, Wayne's wife and Gary's mother, testified on the first day of the trial.

She went over the details of the incident that happened at Nellie's father's house in April 2016 — where Gary lived.

Nellie said that she and her husband were about to leave when Wayne told his son: "Gary, don't be drinking and bringing parties here."

That resulted in Gary getting upset and raising his voice at his father.

She said when Wayne then brought up possibly laying charges from a previous event when Gary stabbed him, that's when Gary lunged at Wayne.

Both parties had agreed that in December 2015, about four months prior to the fatal night, Gary stabbed his father with a knife in Tsiigehtchic, resulting in Wayne having to get surgery. Wayne chose not to press charges at the time.

'Unlawful act is the sitting': Crown

In his closing arguments, Godfrey pointed out that it's important to note that Gary had the upper hand for much of the fight.

Godfrey said Gary eventually started to confront his mom, and that's when Wayne put him in a headlock and pinned him to the ground.

Godfrey said eventually Gary goes limp.

Godfrey argued that after Gary became unconscious, Wayne sat on him during a phone call with RCMP — and that was beyond self-defence.

"[From the] Crown's perspective, the unlawful act is the sitting."

Godfrey said that during forensic pathologist Dr. Mitchell Weinberg's testimony in court, Weinberg said that "McDonald did cause the death of his son."

This was no fight. This was a violent attack by Gary on Wayne. - Charles Davison, Defence lawyer

Godfrey added that when a recording of the RCMP phone call was played in court, one couldn't hear Gary struggling in the background.

He also pointed out that Wayne brings up pressing charges on the stabbing that happened months prior.

"The question is what type of danger was Wayne McDonald in at that time, if he feels the need to report an incident that happened four to five months ago," said Godfrey.

'Clearly' self-defence: Defence lawyer

When defence lawyer Charles Davison began his closing arguments, he pointed out the uniqueness of this trial.

"I don't think I've ever had a case like this where the father is the accused, the son is the deceased and the mother is the key witness."

Davison said that Wayne was defending himself the entire time.

"This was no fight. This was a violent attack by Gary on Wayne."

Davison pointed out the details given by Nellie — that in the middle of this altercation, Gary had threatened to kill both her and Wayne.

Davison said it wasn't possible for Wayne and Nellie to escape during the attack, and that when they tried calling for help "it didn't lead to anything."

Davison said from the descriptions given, Gary became more violent when he was drinking, which he was doing that night.

He said everything that Wayne did "is done to defend himself and his wife."

Davison said that when Gary went limp during the altercation "being unconscious and being close to death" wasn't something that either the mom or dad thought of.

He pointed out that Dr. Weinberg said it wouldn't take a lot of pressure to initiate unconsciousness.

"We are still far from having a precise explanation of what caused the death," said Davison. He said this is a case that is "so clearly of self-defence."

Court will resume 9:30 a.m. Monday where Justice Andrew Mahar will give his final decision.