William Jordan gets hug from victim's daughter after acquittal on manslaughter charge

·5 min read

It took a Saint John jury just under three hours, including time for lunch, to find William Ronald Jordan not guilty of manslaughter in the death of 54-year-old Anthony Dwyer.

Jordan, 21, was charged with manslaughter after Dwyer died from injuries suffered when he was punched and fell on the Market Square boardwalk.

It was just after 3 p.m. Wednesday when the 11 jurors sent word they had reached a verdict, which they delivered in person shortly after 3:30 p.m.

Members of both families cried when the verdict was read.

He's a young man and I pray that he learns from this and he does great things with his life. - Kayln Dwyer, victim's daughter

As soon as the jury left the room, the victim's daughter, Kayln Dwyer, approached Jordan's mother and exchanged tearful words and hugged her.

Kayln then hugged a tearful Jordan.

Outside the courtroom, Dwyer said she wanted Jordan's family to know how sorry they were to meet under these circumstances.

"I wanted to make sure that Will knew that there is no anger from us anymore," she told reporters.

Roger Cosman/CBC
Roger Cosman/CBC

Dwyer said her family was fully prepared for a not guilty verdict.

"Nobody wins," she said. "Guilty or not guilty, that verdict doesn't change the situation at hand. He's a young man and I pray that he learns from this and he does great things with his life."

Her brother, Jarryd Dwyer, agreed. He said sending Jordan to jail wouldn't have changed anything for the Dwyer family. He said he hopes Jordan has learned a lesson — that "actions cause reactions and consequences can happen."

Kayln said she hopes people won't judge her father by his actions in the moments before he was knocked unconscious on the night of July 13, 2018.

"His actions displayed on that night were not indicative of who he was as a man, a father, a brother, a son, he is a grandfather. He is so much more than what was displayed that night,

"And I know that if he were here, he would apologize for his actions."

Mr. Justice Darrell J. Stephenson gave his final instructions to the jurors on Wednesday morning and sent them off to deliberate shortly after noon.

Over four days last week, the jury heard that Jordan punched Dwyer in the face after a brief exchange over a half-smoked cigar. As a result of the punch, Dwyer fell backward and struck his head on the pavement, causing the injuries that led to his death.

Roger Cosman/CBC
Roger Cosman/CBC

In his charge to jurors, Stephenson said they should only rely on the evidence they heard in the courtroom.

The judge then spent some time reviewing the evidence of each of the witnesses. He also detailed the legal principles of consent and self-defence and what jurors must consider in applying them.

Nineteen witnesses were called during the trial — 17 for the Crown and two for the defence, including Jordan.

Although there were slight discrepancies about the exact physical contact made by Dwyer and Jordan, they largely told the same story.

The jury heard that the two men — strangers to each other before their paths crossed on the night of July 13, 2018 — made plans with friends to watch live music on Saint John's boardwalk.

Early that evening in Petitcodiac, Dwyer and his friends loaded into his van for the drive to Saint John. As they sat and had a few drinks at a bar, Jordan was making plans with friends to meet after he finished work.

Jordan and his friends were sharing a marijuana joint nearby, when Dwyer was asked to leave the bar because he was drunk.

At some point, Dwyer gave his last Captain Black cigar to a young man. As Jordan and his friends made their way along the boardwalk, that young man gave the cigar to Jordan.

As he and his friends smoked the small cigar, or cigarillo, Dwyer approached to ask where he had gotten it.

He demanded it back and Jordan refused.

The two exchanged words and Jordan testified that he found it funny at the time that Dwyer was getting so upset over a "half-smoked cigar."

Roger Cosman/CBC
Roger Cosman/CBC

He said he thought Dwyer was "kind of messing with me."

Jordan, one of two witnesses called by the defence, said Dwyer "said something to the effect, 'You're going to give it back or I'm going to take it back.'"

He said Dwyer then pushed four straight fingers into the soft spot on his throat, causing him to take a step back.

Video surveillance, taken from a nearby camera and entered as an exhibit in court, shows Jordan stepping back toward Dwyer after the push.

Jordan testified that's when Dwyer said, "I'm going to rip your … testicles off."

"That's when I hit him," Jordan told the jury.

Numerous skull fractures

Pathologist Ken Obenson testfied on Friday morning that Dwyer suffered multiple fractures of his skull, in back and in front.

He told the jury that the orbital plate, the bone located in the forehead area, is a relatively delicate bone. He said the fracture was likely caused by Dwyer's brain colliding with it when the back of his head struck the pavement.

Obenson also found small and large bleeds throughout Dwyer's brain, as well as bruises and swelling.

When he arrived at the hospital, Dwyer's pupils were fixed and dilated, he had no corneal blink reflex, he didn't respond to painful stimuli, and he had no cough or gag reflex.

According to an agreed statement of facts entered as an exhibit, all of those things are brain stem reflexes necessary to sustain life.

The absence of those reflexes indicates brain death and no treatment would alter that prognosis.

The agreement statement said there was "no hope of survival."

Dwyer was removed from life support on July 16, 2018.