Calgary

Ryan Lane murder trial hears closing arguments from defence lawyers

There are too many coincidences to draw any conclusion except the fact that Ryan Lane was murdered by Sheena Cuthill, Tim Rempel and Wilhelm Rempel, argued prosecutor Tom Buglas in his final statement to the jury on Monday.

Jury to receive final instructions on Tuesday morning, expected to begin deliberations Tuesday afternoon

Ryan Lane was last seen on Feb. 6, 2012. Lawyers for the three people who are accused of murdering him made their final arguments to the jury on Monday morning. (Submitted by Ryan Lane's family)

There are too many coincidences to draw any conclusion except the fact that Ryan Lane was murdered by Sheena Cuthill, Tim Rempel and Wilhelm Rempel, argued prosecutor Tom Buglas in his final statement to the jury on Monday.

"You've seen the evidence as a whole," said Buglas. "You know how this story ends ... Ryan Lane is dead."

Cuthill encouraged her husband and brother-in-law to murder Lane, while the men kidnapped and killed him, according to the prosecution.

Final arguments were made at the trial where Sheena Cuthill, her husband, Tim Rempel, and his brother, Wilhelm Rempel, are charged with kidnapping and first-degree murder.

Lane started fighting for visitation rights with the daughter he and Cuthill shared and the Crown believes that's what motivated the killing.

Over the course of Monday afternoon, Buglas reviewed the significant amount of evidence presented throughout the five week trial. 

"Altogether it builds a case that's irrefutable," he told jurors.

If the plan was to threaten or assault — rather than murder — Ryan Lane in the middle of a custody battle, he could have gone to police and gained control of the family court situation.

"There's no other level of criminality that makes sense here," said Buglas.

Some of the evidence Buglas pointed to was a conversation between the Rempel brothers recorded by police that he says shows they knew Lane's body had been burned before the body was found.

"I do believe there was a couple of pieces there, but as hot as it was, there was no DNA, nothing to be found," Wilhelm said to Tim.

But lawyers for the three accused all argued their clients should be found not guilty of murder.

Sheena Cuthill

The evidence against Cuthill comes down to text messages that the Crown says show the planning of Lane's death months before his disappearance, argued defence lawyer Alain Hepner.

"Can I trust Will to have this done without cops showing up on my doorstep?" Cuthill texted her husband after a family court mediation session between Lane and Cuthill.

Wilhelm Rempel, Sheena Cuthill and Tim Rempel are all accused of murdering Ryan Lane because he wanted visitation rights with the daughter he and Cuthill shared. (CBC/Global)

Both Cuthill and Tim Rempel testified in their own defence that there was a plan to talk to Lane. Cuthill said the goal was to scare him into getting out of town, leaving his daughter and parents.

Tim Rempel testified that he simply wanted to tell Lane to step up as a father or step out of his daughter's life altogether.

Though Cuthill told the jury she knew roughhousing and fighting would likely take place when her husband and his brother confronted Lane, she denied orchestrating a plot to kill him.

But Hepner told jurors they should consider Cuthill's lack of self-esteem and sophistication.

"She's not an abettor," said Hepner. "She's not pulling the strings at all."

Though he says she should be acquitted, Hepner told jurors they could also find his client guilty of manslaughter if they believe she encouraged violence but did not know Lane would be killed.

Tim Rempel

During his testimony, Tim Rempel told the jury that he built the burn barrel where Lane's class ring, pieces of his cell phone and human remains were discovered. He also admitted to working at the gravel pit where that burn barrel was found.

But his lawyer, Allan Fay, argued that admission in itself should be considered by jurors.

"He told you all the truth, the truth that made him look good and the truth that made him look bad," said Fay. "That's the hallmark of an honest person." 

DNA matching Lane found in Tim Rempel's vehicle matched his story that Rempel hit Lane in the face after taking him to a remote location the night he disappeared. But Fay says Tim's story that he left after the brief and non-life-threatening altercation, should be believed.

"There's no evidence to suggest he's the type of person to concoct a plan to execute someone in cold blood then dispose of the body," said Fay.

If jurors believe Tim's testimony, Fay told them they must acquit him.

Wilhelm Rempel

Wilhelm Rempel's lawyer Jim Lutz began his closing submissions by telling jurors that the trial has been emotional, especially with the families of the victim and accused in the courtroom everyday and asked the jury to put aside prejudice and judge the case on its facts.

"The nice thing about law is that it's all about common sense," said Lutz. 

The crown, said Lutz, has not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Wilhelm Rempel is guilty.

Lutz argued that out of all three accused, his client had the the least to do with Lane and that there was no direct evidence linking Wilhelm to Lane's death.

"These things require proof," said Lutz.

The jury will receive final instructions from Justice Alan Macleod on Tuesday morning and they are expected to begin deliberations in the afternoon. 

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