Toronto

Mistrial declared at murder trial for 3 accused of killing Zack Noureddine

The murder trial for three men accused of killing Zaher 'Zack' Noureddine has ended in a mistrial. The 25-year-old aspiring music journalist was killed outside a Toronto restaurant in 2015.

Crown played video clips that it hadn't entered as evidence when it first laid out its case

Zaher 'Zack' Noureddine was killed outside a restaurant on Yonge Street in Toronto shortly after midnight on Dec. 30, 2015. (Facebook)

The murder trial of three men accused of killing Zaher "Zack" Noureddine has ended in a mistrial.

William Cummins, 32, Matthew Moreira, 34, and Patrick Smith, 28, are all charged with first-degree murder in the beating death of Noureddine, a 25-year-old aspiring music journalist. The deadly attack took place outside a Toronto restaurant on Dec. 30, 2015.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Maureen Forestell ​has ruled that the trial cannot continue partly because the Crown, while cross-examining Cummins, played 11 pieces of security video for the jury that it had not entered into evidence when the case was first laid out.  

Last week, all three of the accused applied for a mistrial on the grounds that "their fair trial rights had been irremediably prejudiced by the conduct of the Crown in putting before the jury inadmissible evidence during the cross-examination of the accused," Forestell wrote in her 20-page decision.

The judge wrote that even if the Crown had asked permission to play the videos, she would have ruled seven of them inadmissible.

"I find that the use of this evidence in cross-examination for substantive purposes ... was fundamentally unfair to the three accused," she wrote in her decision.

"I have concluded that no other remedy [but a mistrial] would redress the harm."

During the trial, Cummins testified that he had punched and kicked Noureddine outside St Louis Bar and Grill on Yonge Street, in midtown Toronto, on Dec. 30, 2015, causing his death.

Cummins had pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder but guilty to manslaughter, a plea the Crown did not accept.

The Crown played the 11 videos during his cross-examination ostensibly to discredit Cummins's version of events, but Forestell determined that only four of the clips served that purpose.

"Had the Crown played only those four videos for the clear purpose of impeachment, I would not have been of the view that a mistrial was required because of the failure to seek leave to show the evidence to the jury."

Cummins, Moreira and Smith will remain behind bars.

Victims parents devastated as new trial ordered 

Magda Khatib, Noureddine's mother, said she's now in a "miserable" situation.

"I can't handle to see them anymore," she said of the three accused. 

"It's devastating to go through this again," said Hassan Noureddine, the victim's father, after hearing another trial would be necessary.

"It's very emotional." 

The case will be back in court next Tuesday, when a jury for a new trial could be chosen