Jury trial underway for man accused in 2014 home invasion and shooting

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Markel Jason Downey is shown leaving court in Halifax in 2017  (CBC - image credit)
Markel Jason Downey is shown leaving court in Halifax in 2017 (CBC - image credit)

The trial of a Nova Scotia man charged after a violent home invasion six years ago in Cole Harbour that left three people with gunshot wounds opened Wednesday in Halifax.

Markel Jason Downey faces one count of first-degree murder in the death of Ashley MacLean Kearse and two counts of attempted murder.

It's one of two jury trials that began Wednesday in the Halifax area for the first time in more than a year.

The trial is taking place in a courtroom built to accommodate COVID-19 physical distancing requirements.

The Crown alleges Downey and three other males put on hoodies and masks before entering a house where MacLean Kearse and two of her male friends were playing video games in November 2014. The Crown alleges Downey was the only one with a gun and that he shot MacLean Kearse and her friends, demanding their valuables.

MacLean Kearse was shot during the home invasion. She died in 2018.
MacLean Kearse was shot during the home invasion. She died in 2018.(CBC)

MacLean Kearse survived the shooting but was paralyzed when the bullets severed her spine. She died in July 2018.

Her two friends who were also in the house, Jordan Langworthy and Logan Starr, were also shot but less seriously injured.

Crown attorney Erica Koresawa told the jury Wednesday that Langworthy and Starr will testify, along with police witnesses. Doctors will also testify as to what caused MacLean Kearse's death after she was shot, said Koresawa.

As well, Koresawa told the jury to expect to hear testimony from MacLean Kearse herself, which was recorded before her death.

"All that is required is your eyes, your ears, and your good common sense. This is why we have juries," Koresawa told the court.

Defence lawyer Malcolm Jeffcock told the jury the defence doesn't dispute that the three people were shot, but said there is "virtually nothing" that links the accused to the shooting.

The crucial point, he said, is identifying who the masked shooter was.

Jeffcock told the jury there is 'virtually nothing' that links his client to the shooting.
Jeffcock told the jury there is 'virtually nothing' that links his client to the shooting.(Rob Short/CBC)

"I think you all have a little bit more experience now in how people can identify people who are wearing masks," Jeffcock said to the jury, who were all wearing masks due to COVID-19 protocols.

Jeffcock said the defence will decide later in the trial if Downey will testify, based on the Crown's evidence.

Twenty-six days have been set aside for the trial. A judge and jury of 13 men and women are hearing the case after one juror was excused Wednesday morning.

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