17-year-old Matt McKay was killed by Marko Miljevic, then 19, who struck him in the head with a pickaxe in 2007. ((CBC))

The Supreme Court of Canada upheld the conviction on Wednesday of a man who murdered a Calgary teenager with a pick-axe three years ago.

Marko Miljevic, then 19, was high on cocaine and drunk on Sept. 29, 2007, when he hit 17-year-old Matt McKay in the head with the axe at a garage party in southeast Calgary.

Miljevic was convicted of second-degree murder in December 2008. He was sentenced to an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for eight and a half years.

Miljevic appealed the verdict, arguing that Court of Queen's Bench Justice Earl Wilson failed adequately to answer a question from the jury on what distinguishes manslaughter from second-degree murder.

But the Supreme Court rejected that argument by a vote of 4 to 3.

"There is no reasonable possibility that the jury could have misunderstood what had to be proved in order for them to return a guilty verdict on the charge of second degree murder," wrote Justice Thomas Albert Cromwell.

In April, the Alberta Court of Appeal also ruled that the conviction stands, noting that trial judges routinely decline to give substantive answers to questions posed by juries.