Connie Oakes' murder appeal heard in Calgary court

The appeal of convicted Medicine Hat murderer Connie Oakes was heard in Calgary today after her co-accused's conviction was overturned in October.

Panel of appeal judges has reserved its decision

Linda Oakes and eight other members of her family travelled from Saskatchewan to listen to arguments in her niece's murder appeal (Meghan Grant/CBC)

Connie Oakes was found guilty of murder based on the testimony of a woman with an IQ of about 50 who couldn't keep her story straight. 

On Tuesday, Oakes asked the Alberta Court of Appeal to overturn her conviction and either order a new trial or an outright acquittal.

Nine members of Oakes' family showed up for the hearing, travelling from Maple Creek, Sask. 

"I want to see her set free," said Linda Oakes, Connie's aunt. "We all know that she didn't do it."

Casey Armstrong, 48, was found dead in his Medicine Hat trailer in May 2011. He had been stabbed in the neck. 

Two women, Oakes and Wendy Scott, were charged with murder. Scott pleaded guilty to second-degree murder but in October, the Alberta Court of Appeal overturned her conviction and ordered a new trial.

The Crown consented to a new trial on the basis that the evidence presented to the original trial judge did not support a finding of second-degree murder.

There were about 50 contradictions in Scott's testimony and she has an IQ of about 50. 

"It's a miscarriage of justice," said Linda Oakes.

'It was the jury's call'

There was no forensic evidence presented at Oakes' trial linking her to the murder, rather the prosecutor relied on Scott's testimony.

Despite the inconsistencies in Scott's evidence, a jury found Oakes guilty of second-degree murder and she was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 14 years.

"Jury verdicts are not immune from this court's scrutiny," said Oakes' appeal lawyer, Alexandra Seaman. 

Scott's IQ was not disclosed to the jury when it considered her evidence against Oakes. 

But Crown prosecutor Brian Graff argued against both an acquittal and a new trial — both options that are open to the appeal panel.

"If this court has a doubt, that was not shared by the jury," said Graff. "It was the jury's call."

The panel of three appeal judges reserved its decision.