Jury to continue deliberating Monday in Randy Riley murder trial

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Judge sides with rural residents fighting to keep taps turned on

After deliberating for over 23 hours, the jury who will decide the fate of accused killer Randy Desmond Riley returned to the courtroom Sunday briefly to revisit testimony from one of the witnesses.

Riley, 27, was charged with first-degree murder in the 2010 shooting death of Chad Smith. He is also facing a weapons charge related to a sawed-off shotgun. He has pleaded not guilty to both charges.

Smith was delivering pizza to an apartment building in Dartmouth's Highfield Park when he was killed by a single gunshot.

Jurors began their deliberations on Thursday, and on Sunday afternoon emerged to ask if they could listen once again to the testimony of Paul Smith.

Testimony revisited

Paul Smith, who is not related to Chad Smith, told the court that before the shooting, his friend Riley told him he had a problem with a pizza delivery man because he had allegedly beaten up Riley years earlier.

Paul Smith drove Riley and another man, Nathan Johnson, to Lake Banook to pick up what Smith believed was a gun, he told the jury. Smith testified that after the homicide, Riley told him "it had to be done."

During cross-examination, Smith said Riley never used the word "gun" to describe what they were picking up near Lake Banook. Defence lawyer Trevor McGuigan also asked Smith why in all the years he and Riley were friends, he never once mentioned the dispute with Chad Smith before that night. 

Aunt of accused speaks out

After deliberations resumed, Riley's aunt spoke with reporters at Nova Scotia Supreme Court, saying her family is hopeful about the outcome of the trial.

"We would not have been here so consistently did we not believe completely in his innocence," said Elizabeth Riley Drummond. "We know this child. He's not capable of anything like that."

The jury's deliberations have been "excruciating" for the family to endure, Riley Drummond said.

"There have been a lot of prayers and that's what's sustaining us ... No matter the outcome, our love for him and our belief in his innocence will never waver — ever."

Riley Drummond said she believes "the cards are stacked" against her nephew because he is a young black man, and the jurors, lawyers and judge appear to be white.

"My first thought when they filed into the courtroom was 'Oh, F, we're screwed' ... I don't like to play the race card, but it's there for everyone to see."

She said her family's hearts go out to the family of Chad Smith.

"Nobody should ever have to go through that kind of tragedy. Every day, I offer up prayers for their peace," she said. "I want people to understand that we're all victims in this, and we just need to build a kinder, gentler society where everybody gets a fair shake."

The jury finished deliberations for the day at 6 p.m. They will reconvene at 9:30 a.m. Monday.