Judge in N.W.T. murder trial to give verdict in 3 weeks

The closing arguments in the murder trial of a Fort Good Hope man were heard Friday in N.W.T. Supreme Court.

In closing submissions, lawyers offered judge very different interpretations of evidence

Police officers found a knife in the grass about three metres from where Lloyd Edgi was stabbed. The prosecution argues that Colten McNeely went after Edgi to 'settle the score.' (Public Prosecution Service of Canada)

A Northwest Territories Supreme Court judge is now weighing the evidence in the second-degree murder trial of a Fort Good Hope man.

Lawyers made final submissions Friday afternoon in the trial of Colten McNeely. The 26-year-old is accused of a fatal stabbing in Fort Good Hope on Sept. 3, 2017.

Second-degree murder carries a minimum sentence of life with no parole for 10 years.

Defence lawyer Peter Harte argued that McNeely was acting in self-defence when he stabbed Lloyd Edgi in the chest beside an abandoned house just before 4 a.m. The stabbing occurred about 10 minutes after the much larger Edgi had assaulted McNeely in a jealous rage.

Harte told the judge his client had no idea why Edgi had assaulted him, and he approached Edgi on a darkened trail to find out.

"As he said to police, he thought Lloyd was finished and wanted to know what the problem was," said Harte.

During the trial, McNeely testified that Edgi started attacking him again. He said Edgi was pulling him by the arm when he tripped and fell, and Edgi ended up on top of him. McNeely testified he had no memory of stabbing Edgi, only seeing him call out that he had been stabbed, get up, and then fall to the ground.

Both men had been drinking straight vodka leading up to the confrontations. McNeely said he had also smoked marijuana. Edgi had approximately three times the blood alcohol concentration limit for driving.

The doctor who conducted the autopsy on Edgi said he suffered several stab wounds. The fatal wound pierced his heart. The doctor testified he would have collapsed in less than a minute from blood loss caused by that wound.

Colten McNeely as photographed by RCMP after he turned himself in to police hours after the death of Lloyd Edgi. (Public Prosecution Service of Canada)

Accused wanted to 'settle the score,' says Crown

On Friday, prosecutor Jill Andrews urged the judge to reject McNeely's testimony, saying it was self-serving and not believable. She said the evidence showed he started lying about the attack moments after it happened, telling a friend who ran to the scene that he hadn't done anything, and then calling the RCMP and telling them someone had pulled a knife on him.

Andrews said McNeely wanted revenge for being beaten up by Edgi — "He got a knife and he went after Lloyd to settle the score."

The prosecutor told the judge McNeely's lack of memory about the stabbing, and about what happened immediately after, are at odds with his memory of minor details. Though he had no memory of the stabbing, he recalled having a lighter in his front pants pocket and a mickey in his back pocket. He recalled the knife was in his jacket pocket, which was unzipped.

Andrews said no defensive wounds were found on Edgi, and the knife wounds he suffered were all in the chest area, indicating McNeely was the aggressor and intended to do serious harm.

"It was done quickly and it was done with purpose," Andrews said.

Justice Andrew Mahar said he will give his verdict Nov. 28.