Nfld. & Labrador

Jury sequestered in Trent Butt 1st-degree murder trial

Justice Donald Burrage finished his instructions to the 12-person jury Thursday morning, after lawyers submitted final arguments.

Crown and defence lawyers finished their final arguments Thursday morning

Quinn Butt's mother, Andrea Gosse, sits behind her former husband Trent Butt at his first-degree murder trial. (Mark Quinn/ CBC)

Jurors have heard final arguments from the lawyers, as well as instructions from the judge, and are now sequestered to make their decision in the first-degree murder trial of Trent Butt.

Butt is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his five-year-old daughter, Quinn.

There were 14 jurors who heard evidence during the trial, but only 12 are sequestered for deliberations.

Numbers were drawn randomly to decide which two jurors would be excused.

Quinn Butt, 5, died at her father's home in Carbonear in April 2016. (Facebook)

Defence and Crown lawyers gave their final arguments Thursday morning, before Justice Donald Burrage began his instructions to the jury.

"Jurors are not advocates, jurors are judges," he told them of their role. 

The trial heard emotional testimony from Andrea Gosse, Butt's estranged wife and the mother of Quinn, as well as from the first responders who were called to the scene at Butt's Carbonear home in April 2016.

"This has proven to be an emotionally-charged trial … but you must decide with reason and put emotions aside," Burrage told the jury.

"Punishment is not part of your job."

Butt was originally charged with first-degree murder and arson, pleading not guilty to both. However, at the onset of the trial, Butt changed the arson plea to guilty, acknowledging that he started the fire at his home.

There will be a sentencing hearing on April 23 to deal with Butt's arson plea.

Cause of death undetermined

The trial was initially expected to take three weeks, but moved more quickly than that.

Former chief medical examiner Dr. Simon Avis, who performed the autopsy on Quinn, testified Monday he was unable to determine a cause of death, but did say she died before the fire at her father's home was set.

On Tuesday, Butt took the stand in his own defence, testifying he doesn't remember doing anything to his daughter, just that he realized she had died and concluded he suffocated her.

He said that's when he decided to kill himself, wrote what the defence describes as a suicide note, and placed it in his truck.

The Crown argued Butt wanted to punish Gosse, and is describing the 10-page letter, titled "Final Words," as a murder-suicide note.

While on the stand, Butt denied planning to kill Quinn.

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With files from Mark Quinn