Charge in Linnea Veinotte death creates speculation in Grenada

A legal expert in Grenada says the non-capital murder charge in the Linnea Veinotte case leads him to believe police have some evidence to suggest she was struck down on purpose.

Non-capital murder charge leads one expert to think accused had intent to kill N.B. woman

Akim Frank, 26, is led to court to be charged in connection with the death of New Brunswick native Linnea Veinotte. (MTV News Grenada)

A legal expert in Grenada says the non-capital murder charge in the Linnea Veinotte case leads him to believe police have some evidence to suggest she was struck down on purpose. 

While Grenadian police said the cause of death was a "vehicular accident,"  Akim Frank, 26, has been charged with non-capital murder.

Under Grenadian law that implies intent to kill or cause grievous harm.

"You have to conclude that there is some evidence that the police seem to have that suggests this gentleman was not simply driving in a dangerous manner, but there was some intention on his part," says Darshan Ramdhani.

Ramdhani previously served in Grenada's Office of the director of public prosecutions as a senior Crown counsel before serving as solicitor general for four years.

Ramdhani says impaired driving or reckless driving could have led to lesser charges under the Road Traffic Act, with maximum penalties of up to 10 years in prison.

A memorial service for Linnea Veinotte will be held in Lunenburg, N.S. on Sunday. (Facebook)
He was also asked to speculate on a scenario where Veinotte survived an accidental vehicle collision, but the ensuing decision not to seek medical attention contributed to her death. In such circumstances, Ramdhani said lesser charges were still more likely.

"Let's say he had no intention at all, he was simply driving dangerously and he struck this lady and she's now lying in the road," he said.

"I would think it would be a stretch for the prosecution to prove that if he then tried to dispose of her a) believing she was simply injured and did not consider whether that might lead to her death or considered it, and didn't care if it did lead to her death, then you would get really to a negligent position, a gross negligent position. A recklessness and that sort of recklessness would really only ground a manslaughter charge."

Veinotte, 36, grew up in New Brunswick and lived in Nova Scotia recently until moving to Grenada with her family a few months ago.

On. Dec. 6, she disappeared while out with her dog, which was found injured on the road with Veinotte nowhere to be found.

Five days later, Frank, who had turned himself into police, led them to Veinotte's body.

Death by blunt force trauma

On Monday, the acting commissioner of the Grenada Police said Veinotte's cause of death was blunt trauma to the chest and the lower part of the body.

And even though the investigation is ongoing, Acting Commissioner Winston James kept referring to a "vehicular accident." 

Sen. Peter David, also a criminal lawyer, says the word "accident" and the murder charge don't seem to square. 

Grenadian Sen. Peter David thinks the non-capital murder charge may relate to actions taken by the accused after Linnea Veinotte was struck by a vehicle. (YouTube)
"I have found some startling contradiction between what is being said and what is being done," said David. 

"If it's an accident, then one would have expected the charge to be something like death by dangerous driving, vehicular manslaughter."

"The charge of non-capital murder seems to suggest to me that somebody had the specific intent to kill, which is the standard of proof that we have for murder in Grenada," he said.

"You can't have an accident and a specific intent to kill. So yes, it does give us some reason to pause and wonder, what is it that is driving that? And at this time, none of us are there with that information," he said.

"All we can do is speculate that there is something more, not being said in the public."

Charge reduction possible?

David says his intuition suggests the charge relates to Frank's actions after the collision.

"If ... after the accident there were some other actions on his part that led to her death, then that may be the reason for what we believe is a charge that is seemingly out of sync with the police statement," he says.

David says in his experience, police first lay the highest possible charge and in the course of legal proceedings, such as the preliminary inquiry, the charge can be reduced.

Frank is due back in court on Dec. 30.

In Grenada, capital murder is a charge that applies to people who kill police officers or people who kill others during the commission of another crime such as a robbery or assault.  Capital murder carries the death penalty.

Non-capital murder, carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

About the Author

Rachel Cave

Rachel Cave is a CBC reporter based in Saint John, New Brunswick.