Six years after supermarket cashier Clémence Beaulieu-Patry was stabbed to death at her workplace, a new trial has been ordered for Randy Tshilumba who was found guilty of first-degree murder by a jury.
In a judgment rendered on Nov. 28, Quebec's Court of Appeal said the judge had given the jury instructions that were "unduly long, unnecessarily complex, but above all manifestly contradictory and prejudicial."
In the 2017 trial, the defence pleaded Tshilumba's actions were prompted by mental health troubles, which was rejected by the jury. He was found guilty of pre-meditated murder and sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole before 25 years.
In April 2017, Tshilumba repeatedly stabbed Beaulieu-Patry, 20, in broad daylight at the Maxi grocery store where she worked.
The two had gone to the same high school but hadn't seen each other since graduation. Tshilumba had falsely become increasingly paranoid that Beaulieu-Patry and four of her friends were planning to kill him after seeing posts on a Facebook group.
The defence argued the man's actions were the result of an "ill brain" that "couldn't tell the difference between right and wrong."
After the stabbing, Tshilumba hid in a nearby Tim Hortons washroom for seven hours. While hiding, he texted some friends asking if they were available, saying he was "afraid for his life."
He also searched "evidence trash bag murder," "is it possible to execute a perfect murder," and "why do murderers often find it difficult to…" on his phone and followed La Presse's coverage of the events from the washroom.
The Quebec Court of Appeal reproached Superior Court Judge Hélène Di Salvo, saying her job was to "clarify and simplify" the jury's deliberation process. However, it said her instructions were too long-winded and confusing.
Di Salvo had told the jury Tshilumba's actions following the stabbing were inconsequential in determining his guilt, which the court says had the effect of "muddling the fundamental issue of the trial" — the man's mental state.
"The corrections were fatal and require a new process," it said.