Hamilton

Peter Khill murder case ends in mistrial after juror dismissed over conflict of interest

Jon Styres's family members and friends gasped as an Ontario Superior Court justice declared a mistrial in the case of Peter Khill, who faces second-degree murder after shooting Styres to death in 2016.

A new trial, Khill's third, is set to start Monday in Hamilton after new jury selection

Peter Khill's third trial is set to start Monday. (Colin Perkel/The Canadian Press)

Jon Styres's family members and friends gasped as an Ontario Superior Court justice declared a mistrial in the case of Peter Khill, who faces second-degree murder after shooting Styres to death in 2016.

Wednesday's court proceedings were supposed to be the second day of Khill's high-profile, second trial at the John Sopinka courthouse in Hamilton. Khill pleaded not guilty.

Khill was initially acquitted in the first trial back in 2018 before being ordered by Supreme Court of Canada to face a new trial last year.

On Tuesday, the jury went from 12 to 11 members after a juror was excused after learning a family member died.

On Wednesday morning, Crown prosecutor Paul McDermott told Justice Andrew Goodman they learned one of the jurors was a volunteer with Hamilton Police Services Victim Services Branch.

The branch supports victims of crime like ​child abuse, crimes against seniors, domestic violence or sexual assault.

Hamilton police were investigating a homicide on Highway 56 in Glanbrook back in 2016. (Tucker Wilson/CBC)

McDermott fought to keep the trial, saying a mistrial is supposed to be "last resort."

Defence lawyer Jeffrey Manishen argued there should be a mistrial because only one day of evidence had been heard — the trial was expected to last a few weeks — and with people being infected by COVID-19, the flu and respiratory syncytial virus, the chances of losing another juror in the next few weeks was likely.

Goodman said the case couldn't proceed with fewer than 10 jurors.

After questioning the juror who volunteers with the police, Goodman stated it was a conflict of interest and said he "completely agreed" with Manishen.

"Did you not think that perhaps on a high-profile case given my comments about impartiality that should've at least been disclosed so I could make the assessment?" Goodman asked the juror.

New jury selection starts Friday, third trial to start Monday

A new trial for Khill was ordered last year after Supreme Court Justice Sheilah Martin said the first trial judge failed to instruct jurors about how Khill's role in the shooting should be used to assess how reasonable his conduct was.

Styres, a 29-year-old from Six Nations of the Grand River, died at roughly  3 a.m. ET on Feb. 4, 2016.

The Glanbrook home, just off of Highway 56, where Jon Styres was shot and killed. (Dave Ritchie/CBC)

Police previously said the late-night shooting happened when Styres came onto Khill's property in Hannon on Highway 56, southeast of Hamilton, and tried to steal a pick up truck.

Police said Khill, a millwright and former reservist, was armed and confronted Styres, who died on scene of "gunshot-related injuries."

The case won't be delayed for long. Justice Goodman said jury selection will take place Friday and the new trial — Khill's third— will begin Monday.

Khill's family and Styres's family declined to comment on the mistrial.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bobby Hristova is a journalist with CBC Hamilton. He reports on all issues, but has a knack for stories that hold people accountable, stories that focus on social issues and investigative journalism. He previously worked for the National Post and CityNews in Toronto. You can contact him at bobby.hristova@cbc.ca.

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