Saskatchewan

'The consequences were death': Jury hears closing arguments at Duran Redwood's 2nd-degree murder trial

Both Crown and defence attorneys presented closing arguments at the second-degree murder trial of Duran Redwood Thursday. On Friday, the jury will be sequestered after it receives its final instructions.

Redwood is accused of the 2015 murder of his girlfriend, Celeste Yawney

Celeste Yawney, a mother to two boys, was 33 when she was killed in her own home. (Submitted by Laurel Gardiner)

A Crown attorney showed a photo of Celeste Yawney Thursday afternoon, at the beginning of her closing address to the jury at Duran Redwood's second-degree murder trial. 

"This beautiful face we see in exhibit P3 became this photo we see in P2," said co-Crown prosecutor Constance Hottinger, as she brought up a second photo showing Yawney's beaten, swollen and lifeless face. 

Muffled sobs were heard in the Regina courtroom.

Redwood, 30, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the 2015 death of Yawney, his girlfriend at the time.

His jury trial began at Regina's Court of Queen's Bench Jan. 14. On Friday the jury will begin its deliberations. 

Question of intention

From the beginning, the jury has heard that Redwood does not dispute his actions lead to Yawney's death. His defence lawyer, Kevin Hill, told the jury Redwood was simply too intoxicated to form the intent necessary for murder. 

However, Hottinger said the issue isn't whether Redwood was drunk, because "a drunken intention is still an intention." 

Duran Redwood has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the death of 33-year-old Celeste Yawney. (CBC)

She told the jury that what matters is Redwood's state of mind at the time of the act, rather than what he remembers.

Police found Yawney, a mother of two, dead in her own home on Ingersoll Crescent on May 24, 2015. A forensic pathologist testified that Yawney died from blunt force trauma to the head and trunk.

What was the intention in that moment? The consequences were death. The Crown submits that was his intention.- Prosecutor Constance Hottinger

​Hottinger walked the jury through findings by Dr. Shaun Ladham, Saskatchewan's chief forensic pathologistand told them to consider the nature and number of injuries, as well as force. 

"What was the intention in that moment? The consequences were death. The Crown submits that was his intention." 

Earlier in the trial, a witness testified that Redwood lacked empathy when he spoke about what happened to Yawney that night. 

"That lack of empathy, the Crown suggests, is the same lack of empathy that he possessed when he inflicted the vicious beating on Celeste Yawney and dragged her to the bathtub and left her to die." 

​Hottinger acknowledged that Redwood cried as he testified, but suggested he was not truthful and pointed out various inconsistencies in his testimony. 

She disputed that Redwood was as intoxicated as he claimed, pointing to evidence that shows him walking without trouble and texting in a coherent manner. 

Defence calls for manslaughter verdict

Redwood's defence lawyer told the jury the "evidence of intoxication is overwhelming."

Redwood earlier testified that he blacked out after consuming more than 20 beers and said he doesn't remember what led to Yawney's death. 

His behaviour isn't consistent with someone who meant for Ms. Yawney to die, who would understand consequences or realize her life was in danger ​because of the injuries.- Defence lawyer Kevin Hill 

​​"A person blind drunk becomes blind to consequences, judgment blind, blind to outcomes," Hill said. ​

"​His behaviour isn't consistent with someone who meant for Ms. Yawney to die, who would understand consequences or realize her life was in danger ​because of the injuries."

He asked the jury to use their collective common sense and convict Redwood of manslaughter. 

Questions of informant credibility 

Hill argued that a key trial witness was an "unscrupulous conniver" and a liar who was playing the jury.

The man was an acquaintance of Redwood's and cannot be named because of a publication ban. Hill encouraged the jury to dismiss the testimony, which implicated Redwood. 

The informant went to police after Redwood allegedly told him what had happened over the course of several conversations.

The informant testified that Redwood said he returned to Yawney's house under the suspicion that she was cheating on him, broke down her door, knocked her out and then panicked when he couldn't wake her. 

Hottinger suggested there was no way for the man to have that information, unless it came from Redwood. She said the man was credible and had nothing to gain by going to police. 

Justice Guy Chicoine will instruct the jury Friday morning before the jurors are sequestered to consider their verdict.

With files from Alex Soloducha and Kendall Latimer

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