A man on trial for second-degree murder in the 2020 stabbing of Matthew Bossenberry in Regina has been found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.
A jury returned the manslaughter verdict at the trial of Joshua La Rose, 42, on Friday night, after nine hours of deliberation.
La Rose, 42, was charged in connection with the Aug. 24, 2020, death of Bossenberry, 32. He had pleaded not guilty to the second-degree murder charge.
The courtroom's gallery, filled with family and supporters for both the accused and the victim, was subdued as the jury foreman announced the decision around 10 p.m. Friday. The mothers of both La Rose and Bossenberry wept.
After Court of King's Bench Chief Justice Martel D. Popescul thanked the 12 jurors for their service and court adjourned, Bossenberry's family and other loved ones huddled around his mother and hugged her as tears flowed.
"We respect the decision of the jury in this case," Andrew Campbell, one of the Crown prosecutors, told reporters after court adjourned.
"We know it's a hard day for the Bossenberry family, but we hope that this decision will provide them with a stepping stone to start their journey to heal."
The jury faced a tough decision, said defence attorney Bruce Campbell, but it seemed like an appropriate verdict.
"Nobody was upset or happy," he said, referring to the reaction of those in the gallery Friday night.
During the trial, which began with jury selection on Nov. 14, court heard about the circumstances that led to Bossenberry's fatal stabbing.
While La Rose was in jail for unrelated offences, he made a plan to go to a house in Regina's North Central area to confront a man with whom he had had a previous conflict, court heard.
After he was released, La Rose armed himself with bear mace and, joined by his wife, made his way to the house. En route, he encountered an old friend who gave him a ride, the jury was told.
La Rose knocked on the back door and was allowed inside, after claiming he was there to apologize for the past conflict. But when he got to the living room, he started spraying the mace.
Bossenberry lunged at him and a fight broke out, court heard. The men eventually made it to a back bedroom, where Bossenberry started hitting La Rose with a two-by-four — used to brace the back door — that had been knocked loose into the room.
The court heard conflicting testimony about how the fight progressed once the men were in the back, but it was there La Rose wielded a knife and stabbed Bossenberry in the chest.
Bossenberry died shortly after on the front steps of the house.
The Crown argued that La Rose was not defending himself when he fatally stabbed Bossenberry, but rather intended to kill Bossenberry — or, if not him, another man who was in the house at the time.
The defence, meanwhile, said that La Rose was sustaining potentially lethal blows during the fight with Bossenberry and was defending himself when he stabbed the man in the chest.
In his charge to the jury on Friday, Justice Popescul said the available evidence proved that La Rose killed Bossenberry. But the jury, he said, had to determine if La Rose did so in self-defence.
He told the jury there were three possible verdicts: not guilty, guilty of manslaughter or guilty of the initial second-degree murder charge — a charge which generally suggests a deliberate killing, but one that happened without planning.
The jury returned with the verdict of manslaughter, which applies when a killing is committed without intent to cause death, although there may have been an intention to cause harm.
While a second-degree murder conviction carries a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison, there is no minimum sentence for manslaughter, unless the killing is committed with a firearm.
A sentencing hearing for La Rose is scheduled for Jan. 17, 2023.
The delay is mainly because Popescul ordered a Gladue report, which provides court with background on an Indigenous offender's personal history to consider in sentencing, such as the fact La Rose grew up in foster care and became involved in the youth criminal justice system.