Judge tells jury they are 'sole judges of the evidence' in Nellie Angutiguluk's murder case

Six weeks since it began, the second-degree murder trial of Kwasi Benjamin is now moving toward its final phase. Quebec Superior Court Justice Michael Stober has begun his instructions to the jury.

Kwasi Benjamin, 32, is charged with second-degree murder for 2015 death of Inuk mother of 3

Nellie Angutiguluk, 29, was found dead in a Côte-des-Neiges apartment in May 2015. (Chez Doris)

Six weeks since it began, the second-degree murder trial of Kwasi Benjamin is now moving toward its final phase. Quebec Superior Court Justice Michael Stober has begun his instructions to the jury.

Benjamin, 32, is on trial in connection with the May 2015 death of Nellie Angutiguluk, the Inuk mother of three who had moved to Montreal from Puvirnituq, in the Nunavik region of northern Quebec.

Kwasi Alfred Benjamin, 32, is on trial for Nellie Angutiguluk's second-degree murder. (Montreal police) (Montreal police)
In addressing the jury members, Justice Stober told them he is the judge of the law in the trial, but they are the sole judges of the facts.

"You are the sole judges of the evidence, and you decide the facts," said Stober. "It is my job to determine what rules of law apply in this case, and it is your duty to accept the law as I explain it to you."

Stober told the six men and six women their role is to decide, based only on the facts presented to them, whether Kwasi Benjamin is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

"Even if you believe the accused is 'probably guilty', or 'likely guilty,' that's not sufficient." he said.

The judge discussed evidence of a witness who said Benjamin was accompanied by a new girlfriend for the memorial service of Nellie Angutiguluk. Benjamin testified the woman was a friend, not a girlfriend.

Stober told the jury to be careful in assessing the importance of that evidence. He told the jurors it was not their role to determine if Benjamin was a good boyfriend or not. He said the Crown presented that evidence as proof of a possible motive, and he cautioned the jury not to infer guilt from the fact Benjamin might have had a new girlfriend.

He also reviewed testimony from key witnesses, for both the Crown and the defence, throughout the trial.

Stober urged jurors to keep an open mind and to avoid taking too firm of a position too early in deliberations.

He will finish his instructions on Monday, after which jury members will be sequestered to decide on Benjamin's guilt or innocence.