From a news article by Chris Morris–Legislature Bureau– Nov. 5,2016
Snake trial will proceed,but with 11 jurors
CAMPBELLTON- After a long delay, the criminal negligence trial arising from the deaths of two boys in a snake attack resumed on Friday,but with 11 jurors instead of 12.
Justice Fred Ferguson told the court that one of the jurors was “relieved of her duties” and discharged with the agreement of both prosecution and defence lawyers.
Ferguson told the remaining jurors that despite losing a day of evidence on Friday,he is confident the case will conclude on Wednesday after closing arguments by lawyers and his own charge to the jury.
It then will be up to the jurors to decide whether Jean-Claude Savoie is guilty or not guilty of criminal negligence in the deaths of brothers,Connor,6,and Noah Barthe,4,who were killed by a python on Aug. 5,2013.
Crown prosecutors and the defence agreed to two admissions of fact on Friday,admissions that will allow the trial to move ahead with fewer witnesses.
The first,key admission is agreement on both sides that the African rock python did escape from its enclosure in Savoie’s apartment”through a ventilation pipe”in the ceiling of the pen.
The agreement says the snake then got access to the living room of the apartment where the little boys were sleeping on a mattress on the floor”attacked both and caused their deaths by asphyxiation.”
This admission means Crown prosecutor Pierre Roussel does not have to prove the snake travelled through the air duct,which,according to witnesses,often was open and exposed because of a loose cover.
The defence is conceding that is how the snake escaped and killed the brothers.
In the second statement read in court.both sides agree that in 2002, the Canadian Wildfire Service took into its custody a juvenile African rock python which they subsequently asked Savoie to care for in Campbellton. “At that time,destroying a seized animal was a last resort ,”the statement says.
The wildlife service said there was no funding given to Savoie for care and maintenance of the snake,identified as the one that killed the boys.
Roussel was supposed to conclude his case on Friday but the judge decided to give everyone a break and ended proceedings at lunch.
Roussel now is expected to call his last witness on Monday. The witness,Bob Johnson,former curator of reptiles and amphibians at the Toronto Zoo,is an expert in snake behaviour.
During the week,Roussel presented the Crown’s theory of what happened on Aug. 5,2013,when an African rock python escaped its enclosures in Savoie’s second floor apartment located on Pleasant Street in Campbellton.
The apartment was located above Savoie’s now-closed exotic pet business,called Reptile Ocean.
Savoie kept the snake,and a crocodile,in separate enclosures in the living quarters of the building.
It meant the python was just a few metres away from where brothers Connor,6, and four-year-old Noah Barthe were sleeping on the living room floor.
Pathologist Dr. Marek Godlewski told the court the boys’ bodies were covered with many puncture wounds that matched the tooth pattern of the python,which is non-venomous but bites prey when constrictng.
“The pattern on the wounds was consistent with the pattern of the teeth.”Godlewski told the jury.
He said the boys had been asphyxiated and squeezed so tight,the skin of one of the boys got a “lace-like” pattern from the snake. there also were scaly bits of snake skin found on one of the boys.
Savoie has been charged with criminal negligence causing the deaths of the boys. He has pleaded not guilty.
Once the Crown concludes its case, the defence will begin its arguments.
Court resumes on Monday—Nove. 7,2016