Nova Scotia

Shawntez Downey guilty of 2nd-degree murder in killing of Tylor McInnis

McInnis's body was found Aug. 23, 2016, in the trunk of a stolen car left in a cemetery in North Preston, N.S.

Jury began deliberations late Thursday afternoon and resumed Friday morning

The body of Tylor McInnis, 26, of Halifax was found in a stolen car that had been abandoned in North Preston. (Submitted by Taya Gillis-David)

Shawntez Neco Downey has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Tylor McInnis.

Downey was on trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax, accused of killing McInnis, 26. His body was found Aug. 23, 2016, in the trunk of a stolen car left in a cemetery in North Preston, N.S.

"I'm one of the lucky ones because … trial's over and they've been found guilty, so they'll be taken off the street for many, many years," McInnis's mother, Catherine Johnson, said outside court.

The Crown argued McInnis had gone to North Preston that night intending to trade drugs for a gun, but Downey decided to rob him instead and shot him to death.

Johnson said attending the trial every day was hard, but necessary. 

"I've been here from day one," she said. "Regardless if I had to come here limping, I'd still be here because my son has always been a part of my life even though he's now in heaven."

Downey was also found guilty of attempted murder, kidnapping and forcible confinement involving a second victim, McInnis's friend, Liam Thompson.

Downey's younger brother, Daniel Romeo Downey, was found guilty on charges of kidnapping, forcible confinement and being an accessory to murder.

The six-man, six-woman jury deliberated for less than two hours Thursday before being sequestered for the evening. They resumed deliberations Friday morning.

Credibility of star witness questioned

Closing arguments to the jury focused on the credibility of the Crown's star witness, Ronald Sock — the only one to tie Shawntez Downey directly to the murder.

Downey's defence attorney, Eugene Tan, argued Sock couldn't be trusted and that the bulk of his testimony was not supported with other evidence.

Sock testified he saw Shawntez Downey hit McInnis with a gun that night. When McInnis ran into the woods, Shawntez Downey pursued him, Sock said.

Sock said he stayed behind and hog-tied Thompson with a dog leash. 

Thompson was put in the back seat of his own car by Sock and driven a short distance, when Sock said he heard a single gunshot.

Charge downgraded during trial

Crown attorney Cheryl Schurman said while there were no eyewitnesses to the shooting, there was sufficient evidence for the jury to reasonably infer what happened that night.

Schurman also said Sock's evidence was supported with independent evidence, including cellphone records.

At the start of the trial last month, the jury was told Shawntez Downey faced a charge of first-degree murder. But this week, Justice Denise Boudreau told the jury the charge had been reduced to second-degree murder.

Thompson was able to escape from the car the next morning and walk to the home of relatives. In his testimony, he claimed to have little memory of what happened that night.

With files from Blair Rhodes