Nova Scotia's Court of Appeal has reserved its ruling on the murder conviction for Ricardo Jerrel Whynder, who was convicted in 2019 of killing Matthew Sudds in October 2013.
Sudds's body was found along the side of Africville Road near the Bedford Basin in Halifax seven years ago. He had been shot once in the head.
In spring 2017, Ricardo Jerrel Whynder was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in Sudds's death. A jury convicted Whynder of second-degree murder in March 2019. The conviction carried an automatic life sentence.
Justice Denise Boudreau ruled that Whynder must serve 17 years in prison before he can apply for parole. He appealed that conviction.
On Tuesday, a three-member panel of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal heard Whynder's appeal of his murder conviction. His lawyer is asking for a new trial on a charge of second-degree murder.
There were two men with Sudds in the moments before he was killed: Whynder and Devlin Tyson Glasgow. Glasgow was arrested last year and charged with first-degree murder. His trial is set for next year.
The jury in Whynder's trial heard that he called Sudds and set up a meeting for the night of Oct. 10, 2013. Sudds, Glasgow and Whynder got in a rental car in the parking lot of a Burger King restaurant at the corner of Young Street and Kempt Road, a short distance from Africville. Four days later, a woman out walking her dog discovered the body.
Whynder's appeal lawyer, Roger Burrill, said the Crown's case was circumstantial and that Justice Boudreau failed to adequately instruct the jury on alternatives to the murder conviction. Burrill said no one knows for sure who pulled the trigger and merely being present is not sufficient for a murder conviction.
Burrill argued the evidence could show Whynder was guilty of aiding and abetting a murder, but not of the killing itself.
Burrill also said the judge's instructions to the jury placed too much emphasis on Whynder's post-offence conduct as possible proof he was complicit in the murder.
The day after Sudds was killed, the jury heard, Whynder and Glasgow boarded a flight to Toronto. They were seen at the Toronto airport hugging each other before going their separate ways. The Crown said that behaviour suggested Whynder didn't have a problem with what had happened the day before; that is, the killing Sudds.
Whynder also had a phone conversation with Sudds's mother Darlene, in which he told her he'd put her son on a plane to Montreal. The Crown said that lie was also proof that Whynder was not upset that Sudds had been killed.
The Court of Appeals did not say when it would deliver its decision.
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