Defence argues for criminal negligence verdict in Hutt trial
Warning: The following story contains graphic information some readers may find disturbing
In the last day of the trial of Mark Hutt, a man accused of scalding his wife with boiling water and leaving her to die, the defence argued he should be found guilty of the lesser crime of criminal negligence causing death.
Hutt, 36, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder in the death of Donna Jones in December 2009.
The Crown, in its closing arguments, stated that he constantly abused his wife until the day she died.
Crown attorney Vikki Bair said Wednesday Hutt continued to torture Jones until her death.
"Over the four years he knew her, Mark Hutt engaged in the systemic breakdown of Donna Jones," she said.
"Even after her skin was peeling, after she was literally rotting and stinking, Mark Hutt continued to torture Donna."
Bair said forensic tests show Hutt shot 29 rounds from a pellet gun into Jones, at least two of them coming after she was scalded.
She also said Jones was found with her arms crossed across her body, crouched in a "defensive" position because "she knew what Hutt was going to do."
Bair argued that because Jones was bankrupt and could no longer buy him gifts, she became expendible to Hutt.
She reminded jurors that a pathologist said Jones died 12 hours before Hutt called 911.
She said that even after Jones was burned, the evidence shows that Hutt still elbowed Jones in the head, kicked her and fired at least two air gun pellets into her body.
Defence calls no witnesses
Defence lawyer Lorne Goldstein acknowledged Mark Hutt severely battered and scalded Jones, but he also argued the crown failed to prove Hutt intended to kill his wife when he didn't take her to the hospital.
Goldstein said the Crown was hoping to make the jury loathe Hutt so they wouldn't see the gaps in its evidence.
The defence said Jones was more valuable to Hutt alive because she was his only defender and she could protect him from getting punished for abusing her, because she would have been willing to continue to lie for him about how she was burned.
Hutt had told police, that his wife wanted him to lie and say that she had accidentally fallen into a fire pit at a work event, not that he scalded her.
If he wanted to kill her, Goldstein argued, Hutt could have done so in other ways. He said he could have used the weapons, hunting knives and pellet guns, found inside the home.
The Defence also pointed out that Jones was able to talk to her mom and co-workers three days before she died.
Goldstein argued that Hutt didn't know that Jones' burns had become infected.
He said it was criminal neglect that killed Jones, not abuse.
The jury has heard friends testify about their concerns with changes in Jones’ appearance and behaviour, a forensic pathologist discuss the injuries he found during the autopsy and the investigating officer’s description of their home after she was found dead.
Recordings were played of a frantic-sounding Hutt calling 911 on December 6, 2009, saying he had found his wife dead.
There was also video evidence of Hutt’s interviews with police, where he said he knocked a pot of water off the stove onto Jones, who then told him she didn’t want to go to the hospital.
The couple had been introduced by a friend in the summer of 2005 and they were engaged six months later, during a trip to Disneyworld. Friends had tried to intervene and stop the wedding, but she went ahead with it.
The defence did not call any witnesses during the four-week trial.
The jury will begin deliberations on Thursday after instructions from the judge.