Ottawa

Jury finds Carson Morin guilty of murdering Michael Wassill

A jury has found Carson Morin guilty of first-degree murder in the 2013 death of Michael Wassill.

Morin, 24, sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years

Betty-Ann Wassill says today's verdict won't help her move on because it won't bring her son back. 0:50

 A jury has found 24-year-old Carson Morin guilty of murdering Michael Wassill in 2013.

Wassill, 20, died in hospital after being slashed in the throat while trying to protect a woman who was living with him at his Orléans home.

Michael Wassill, 20, died in hospital days after being attacked at his home on Fernleaf Crescent in Orléans.
As the verdict was read, Wassill's friends and family let out a quiet cheer as his parents began to cry. Morin's mother also broke down, sobbing loudly.

After the guilty verdict was delivered, Wassill's mother, father, sister and friend delivered victim impact statements, which moved some of the jury members to tears. 

Wassill's mother, Betty-Ann, said, "My faith in humanity has been badly shaken by this crime. There were so many junctures where the right thing could have been done — before that fateful day, immediately following the attack, and in the days, weeks, and years since.

My faith in humanity has been badly shaken by this crime.- Betty-Ann Wassill, mother of Michael Wassill

"Any parent who loses a child will tell you that the crippling grief they experience never goes away. Added, to that, these lengthy and arduous legal proceedings have intensified the horrible pain we are experiencing and that has prevented us from savouring the countless sweet memories we have of Michael."

First-degree murder convictions carry a mandatory life sentence, with no possibility of parole for 25 years.

Outside court, Betty-Ann Wassill told reporters there will be no closure for her, in spite of the verdict.

Trial lasted 13 weeks 

The 11-member jury heard closing arguments May 9 and was charged by Superior Court Justice Julianne Parfett May 10. The trial began on Feb. 8 and spanned 13 weeks. Court heard from several witnesses including the woman who was living with Wassill, Wassill's friends and the accused, who testified in his own defence.

The witnesses offered their accounts of the confrontation that happened on the afternoon of May 15, 2013, when Morin drove to Wassill's home on Fernleaf Crescent. The woman, who Morin had recruited as a stripper and with whom he had been in an intimate relationship, was at Wassill's home at the time. She can't be named due to a publication ban.

Carson Morin, pictured here in a courtroom sketch made in February, was charged with first-degree murder in the 2013 stabbing death of 20-year-old Michael Wassill. (Lauren Foster-Macleod/CBC)

Court heard Morin was trying to get $100 from the woman, money he claimed she owed him for driving her to and from stripping jobs. Morin said their arrangement also involved him delivering marijuana to the woman's customers. 

Morin hid a utility knife in the pocket of his hooded sweatshirt and put on a pair of blue latex gloves, then got out of the vehicle and approached Wassill's front door.

When Wassill answered, the two first started shoving each other and it escalated. Morin testified that Wassill had him in a tight bear hug that he couldn't get out of and that's when he reached into his hoodie pocket, pulled out the utility knife and swung it, slitting Wassill's throat. 

The slash left a 21-centimetre-long wound. 

Wassill died in hospital days later.

Sarah Wassill, whose brother Michael was murdered, says it's been difficult to hear the details of his death. 0:31

Woman afraid of accused, court heard

Assistant Crown attorneys Lia Bramwell and Jason Neubauer said Wassill had been trying to protect the woman when he was slashed. 

The woman testified she moved in with Wassill after her relationship with Morin deteriorated. She was platonic friends with Wassill and had lived with him twice before, court heard.

In court, Morin admitted to slashing Wassill's neck, but said it was an act of self-defence.

He testified it happened accidentally because he feared for his own life, and said he wore the blue surgical gloves to give him "confidence." He told court he had worn similar gloves in prison 

Defence asks for manslaughter conviction

In closing arguments on May 9, Morin's lawyer, Leo Russomanno, told the jurors they should convict his client of manslaughter, but acquit him of first-degree murder. 

"Carson Morin killed Michael Wassill, we admit that," Russomanno said bluntly in court. But he emphasized that "any reasonable person" would see that his client feared for his life when he went to Wassill's home.

Morin testified Wassill summoned him to his house over the phone and Morin heard voices in the background say "get him over here."

​Russomanno told court there was nothing planned or deliberate about Morin's actions, including putting on the gloves just before the confrontation. 

'Cold-blooded execution': Crown

Crown prosecutor Lia Bramwell disagreed with that claim.

She told told the jury Morin is guilty of murder because the crime was planned and deliberate, based on what she described as "rock-solid evidence."

"This was a cold-blooded execution of someone who got in the way," Bramwell said, referring to Wassill.