Calgary

Scott Ferguson 'relieved' with jury's manslaughter verdict following murder trial for girlfriend's death

Scott Ferguson bowed his head in relief as the jury announced he was acquitted of murder but found guilty of the lesser offence of manslaughter in the death of his girlfriend, Susan Elko.

Jurors deliberated about 5.5 hours before reaching the verdict

Scott Ferguson was photographed in the hours after he was arrested for murder. Police seized his clothing and had him put on a Tyvek suit. (Court exhibit)

Scott Ferguson bowed his head in relief as the jury announced he was acquitted of murder but found guilty of the lesser offence of manslaughter in the death of his girlfriend, Susan Elko.

Following a six day trial, jurors deliberated for about five hours Tuesday before returning with a verdict. 

Ferguson was originally charged with second-degree murder after stabbing Elko in the neck 10 times during an argument in September 2014.

"He's relieved," said Ferguson's lawyer, Balfour Der. "All along he's been extremely remorseful."

"He's still so very sorry that this lady lost her life at his hand and he's going to pay for that and he knows it."

Susan Elko died in September 2014. (Facebook)

The defence didn't dispute that Ferguson killed Elko, but instead argued he was guilty of manslaughter, not murder.

The couple dated for about a year starting in 2013. Ferguson was a 24-year-old roofer. Elko, 39, worked as a part-time server downtown.

In their brief time together, the couple had a rocky, sometimes violent relationship. Prosecutor Jonathan Hak described the pair as "oil and water" and said they "did not belong together and should never have been together, ever."

On Sept. 14, 2014, the pair went fishing on the Elbow River but began to argue. Back at the apartment, the fight got physical and ended with Ferguson stabbing Elko 10 times in the neck with a knife she'd given him as a birthday gift. 

Justice Glen Poelman thanked jurors for the time and energy they dedicated to the case before dismissing them.

"It's one of the most important functions that a citizen of this country can be entrusted with," Poelman said of jury duty. 

"On behalf of this community and on behalf of this country, I want to thank you for your service."

A date for a sentencing hearing will be set later this month. Der wouldn't comment on what he'll be seeking but said his client is relieved he isn't facing a life sentence that automatically comes with a murder conviction.

"From my client's perspective, he's still just a young man; he's in his 20s ... this will give him some hope and give him some light at the end of the tunnel," he said.

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