Jury considering evidence at retrial in Timaru

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The jury were asked to consider evidence in a conscientious manner and uninfluenced by sympathy during the retrial of Daniel Ethan Smith, 20, at the Timaru High Court yesterday.

A jury of six men and six women heard summaries from the defence, Crown and Justice Rachel Dunningham yesterday.

Last Wednesday, Smith pleaded not guilty to the murder of 16-year-old William Lewis, stating it was in self-defence.

Lewis was stabbed in the back three times following an altercation with Smith (then aged 16) on Exe St at about 9.45pm on April 1, 2010.

Justice Rachel Dunningham told the jury they needed to consider oral evidence, admitted facts and various exhibits in a conscientious manner and uninfluenced by any sympathy.

Smith reacted as a teenage boy, not a mature adult and this needed to be taken into consideration, she said.

Justice Dunningham summed up the arguments from the Crown and the defence to the jury before they went into deliberations yesterday afternoon.

The jury had heard evidence that the accused lied to the police about where he was on the night and told them he did not have a cell phone but this was not necessarily an admission of guilt, Justice Dunningham said.

“People can lie for a number of reasons.”

She advised the jury to consider a number of questions to work out whether the Crown had proved beyond reasonable doubt that Smith was guilty of murder.

If they could not be sure he had acted in self defence but were not certain he had murderous intent then they would have to conclude Smith guilty of manslaughter.

Crown counsel Andrew McRae argued that after considering all the evidence Smith did not act in self-defence but in anger.

“He had the opportunity to do everything but stab Mr Lewis. But he didn’t, he chose to stab William Lewis not once, not twice but three times.”

If he had genuinely thought he had acted in self-defence then why did he hide the knife and make preparations to leave town, Mr McRae said.

Defence counsel Christopher Stevenson addressed the jury by saying that they had a responsibility to consider the facts and make sure they came to the right verdict.

“You can’t get it wrong. There’s no room for mistakes here.”

Smith reacted to a situation where he felt threatened and if he had been left alone none of this would have happened, Mr Stevenson said.

Mr Lewis had “lost the plot” over a rumour about his girlfriend and Smith used the force that he felt was reasonable at the time given he thought he had been attacked, the defence counsel said.

The jury were still deliberating when the Oamaru Mail went to print.