Nova Scotia

Murder trial of Markel Jason Downey winding down

Markel Jason Downey’s fate will soon be in the hands of a jury. Downey is on trial on a charge of first-degree murder in the death of Ashley Kearse MacLean. He’s also facing two counts of attempted murder. Closing arguments were heard Monday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

Downey faces 3 charges, including 1st-degree murder in death of Ashley Kearse MacLean

Markel Jason Downey returns to Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax Thursday (CBC)

Markel Jason Downey's fate will soon be in the hands of a jury.

Downey is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Ashley Kearse MacLean and two counts of attempted murder. Closing arguments in his trial were heard Monday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax.

The charges relate to a violent home invasion and robbery in Cole Harbour on Nov. 30, 2014, that wounded three people, including Kearse MacLean.

Her spinal cord was severed in the shooting. She spent years in a wheelchair and died in 2018, at which time the medical examiner ruled her death a homicide.

Evidence presented at Downey's trial showed blood clots that developed in Kearse MacLean's legs moved into her chest and caused blockages that led to her death. The medical examiner said the clots were a direct result of the paralysis caused by the gunshot wound.

Identity of intruder

Four males were involved in the home invasion. Three of them were youths who pleaded guilty in earlier proceedings to their involvement that night. They cannot be identified because of their ages at the time of the offence.

The identity of the fourth intruder is a central issue at this trial. The Crown said the evidence the jury has heard over the past few weeks points to Downey as the gunman. Downey's lawyer argued the Crown has failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Downey was even there that night.

The only person to conclusively identify Downey as the gunman was Kearse MacLean. She told a paramedic in the back of an ambulance the night of the shooting that "Baby Jason" had shot her, using a nickname for Downey.

She also told her version of that night during testimony from an earlier proceeding that was recorded and played for the jury in this trial. In it, Kearse MacLean said the gunman was dressed all in red.

Survivors testify about intruders

The two other people who were shot that night, Logan Michael Starr and Jordan Langworthy, testified the four intruders were dressed in black. That view was corroborated by witnesses who saw four men running away from the scene that night, dressed all in black.

Downey's lawyer, Malcolm Jeffcock, said during closing arguments that Kearse MacLean only identified the other three people involved in the home invasion after she spoke to her friends who had followed the case in the media. 

Jeffcock said while blood clots were identified as the cause of Kearse MacLean's death, the medical examiner wasn't asked about other health factors that could have led to clotting, such as the fact Kearse MacLean smoked and was overweight.

Justice Timothy Gabriel is expected to give final instructions to the jury Tuesday before deliberations begin.