N.S. man begins 2nd court martial for shooting

A new court martial for a former soldier charged with shooting a comrade in Afghanistan begins Tuesday morning in Halifax.
Matthew Wilcox of Glace Bay, N.S., a former corporal, is escorted at his first court martial on charges of shooting another Nova Scotia soldier. ((Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press))

A new court martial for a former soldier charged in the fatal shooting of a friend and fellow reservist in Afghanistan begins Tuesday morning in Halifax.

Matthew Wilcox of Glace Bay, N.S., was found guilty in July 2009 in the death of Cpl. Kevin Megeney.

After a nine-week trial before a military panel, Wilcox was convicted of criminal negligence causing death and negligent performance of a military duty. He was found not guilty of manslaughter.

He was sentenced to four years in prison and dismissed from the reserves.

But the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada set aside his guilty verdict last year, opening the door for a new trial.

Megeney's uncle, George Megeney, said he's concerned the new trial will dredge up painful memories for his family.  

"Well, I am concerned for my brother and sister-in-law and their daughters," Megeney said. "They haven't had any closure for the death of Kevin.

"This new trial — it's just going to rehash it all again and bring it all to the forefront, and they're just going to relive the entire episode again." 

Wilcox will face the same three charges as in the previous court martial: manslaughter, criminal negligence causing death and negligent performance of a duty.

During this trial, a military judge alone will hear the testimony.

Wilcox is charged with shooting Megeney in the chest on March 6, 2007. Megeney, 25, was a fellow Nova Scotian from Stellarton. The two reservists were friends and shared a tent at Kandahar Airfield.

During his trial in Sydney last year, Wilcox — who was 24 years old at the time of the trial — claimed he heard a gun being cocked when he was in his tent. He said he fired in self-defence.

The prosecution argued Wilcox and Megeney were playing a consensual game of quick draw.

Wilcox was sentenced on Sept. 30, 2009, with the judge saying he was satisfied that the shot that killed Megeney was the result of two soldiers engaged in "horseplay with guns."