Manitoba

Jury at Brett Overby murder trial to decide whether testimony 'far-fetched' or 'too peculiar to be made up'

In her closing argument, Brett Overby's lawyer asked the jury to consider a manslaughter verdict, arguing her client did not intend to kill Christine Wood.

Overby admitted to killing Christine Wood in 2016, but said he did not intend to hurt her

Brett Overby admitted to killing Christine Wood, but said he did not mean to hurt her. (Instagram)

The fate of the Winnipeg man who admitted to killing Christine Wood will soon be in the hands of a jury.

Closing arguments were made Tuesday morning in Brett Overby's second-degree murder trial.

Wood was last seen by her parents in Winnipeg on Aug. 19, 2016. Her body was found in a field outside the city in June 2017, nearly two months after Overby was charged with second-degree murder in connection with her death.

Overby admitted during testimony Monday to killing the 21-year-old in his Burrows Avenue basement on Aug. 20, 2016, but said he did not intend to hurt her.

He said the two had met online through a dating website. They went to his home on the night of Aug. 19, where they had sex and drank together.

They ended up in Overby's basement, where he testified she attacked him with a knife, at which point he said he snapped and blacked out. When he came to, she was lying in a pool of blood, Overby testified.

On Tuesday, defence lawyer Sarah Inness argued being responsible for the death does not make him guilty of second-degree murder. She has argued he should be convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

"Common sense tells you he killed her quickly in the heat of the moment," she said to the jury of nine men and three women.

She argued Overby had no intent to kill, but rather "a quick reaction with no planning, no foresight from someone who had consumed a lot of alcohol."

Christine Wood took this selfie using her mother's phone on the last day they saw her, Aug. 19, 2016. (Melinda Wood)

'Lies meant to bury the truth'

In his closing, Crown prosecutor Brent Davidson argued "drunken intent is still intent."

He addressed the jury for about 50 minutes and quoted Overby's admissions to the jury.

During his Monday testimony, Overby also admitted to wrapping Wood's body in plastic before burying her in a farmer's field in the rural municipality of Springfield, and to cleaning up her blood in his basement, trying to hide the evidence by using bleach.

Davidson said Overby knew what he was doing when he wrapped Wood's body and carried it over his shoulder up a steep flight of stairs.

He said Overby had the foresight to pack a shovel before driving down country roads to bury the evidence.

"This case is about lies meant to bury the truth," said Davidson. "Just like he did with Christine."

Flowers were laid at the site where Christine Wood's remains were found buried. Wood was last seen on Aug. 19, 2016. (Kelly Malone/CBC)

The Court of Queen's Bench trial began on April 30 before Justice Chris Martin.

The Crown called 13 witnesses over four days, including Wood's parents, police investigators, the pathologist who conducted her autopsy, the farmer who found her body and Overby's ex-girlfriend.

Inness called three witnesses on Monday: Overby and two men who dated Wood in the summer of 2016.

The jury heard Wood met all three men on the online dating site Plenty of Fish.

All three men testified she punched them in the face while she was intoxicated.

Overby told the court she punched him once in his kitchen and took another swing at him in the basement, but had a knife hidden in her hand, which cut his neck.

"You do not get to kill someone because you received a scratch on the neck," said Davidson.

He said Overby's story was "far-fetched."

However, Inness argued it was those details which make it believable, specifically telling the jury Overby took Wood to the basement to show her a mouse skeleton.

"These details are too peculiar to be made up," she said.

Patrol Sgt. Brian Neumann testified that swab samples taken from the weight bench in Overby's basement tested positive as Wood's blood. (Court exhibit)

Justice Chris Martin will give instructions to the jury Wednesday morning before they start deliberating.

Inness said she expects they will be given the option to find her client guilty of manslaughter.

"He will not walk out of this courtroom a free man," she said, because her client admitted to the killing.

The Crown urged the jury to find him guilty of second-degree murder.

"The other witness — the other person who can tell us with absolute certainty — was unable to speak seconds after a knife was drawn nine centimetres over her neck," Davidson said in reference to Wood.

"The truth with forever remain buried with Christine Wood."

Closing arguments have finished in Brett Overby's second degree murder trial. He admitted to killing Christine Wood in 2016, but said he didn't mean to. 2:10