Excerpts from Chris Morris—Legislature Bureau—Nov. 9, 2016
CAMPBELLTON- Just a couple of screws in a vent cover could have saved 2 little boys who were killed by an escaped snake, a jury was told as the prosecution argued for a guilty verdict in the criminal negligence trial arising from their tragic deaths.
Crown prosecutor Pierre Roussel and defense lawyer Les Matchim concluded their summations on Tuesday and the case is expected to go to the jury on Wednesday following Justice Fred Ferguson’s instructions.
“It wouldn’t have taken a lot of work,”Roussel aid,holding the vent cover at the trial of Jean-Claude Savoie.
“He just had to screw it in.”
Savoie is charged with criminal negligence causing the deaths of brothers Connor,6,and Noah Barthe,.4,.on Aug. 5,2013,when an African rock python escaped its pen in Savoie’s apartment by crawling through an open air duct in its enclosure.
Witnesses have told the trial the cover to the ceiling duct often was on the floor of the snake’s pen. The vent cover had 4 small holes where it could be secured in place with screws,but it wasn’t.
“It was a dangerous place to live in that apartment ,”Roussel said,adding that Savoie did not take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of people visiting his home,especially the Barthe brothers.
Savoie wiped away tears as his lawyer,Les Matchim, urged the jury to find his client not guilty. Matchim said Savoie is a “good father” to his own little boy and he cared deeply about the 2 brothers who died in the snake attack in his apartment.
“He is not someone who would be reckless and cavalier with their lives,”the defense lawyer said.
Matchim said Savoie made a grave mistake,one he must live with”for the rest of his life.”
But Matchim insisted that Savoie never showed the kind of wanton recklessness and disregard for safety that characterize criminal negligence.
“Would he put hi sown safety ad that of his son at risk”Matchim asked.
Savoie’s 3 year old son was in a separate room during the 2013 snake attack and was not hurt.
Referring to key testimony that Savoie had once seen the python “halfway out” of the ventilation pipe but failed to take corrective action,Matchim said the incident served as proof to Savoie that the 4 meter snake could not fit completely through the pipe.
Matchim said Savoie performed a “service” to the federal government by taking in the snake,but he was never compensated for caring for the animal.
More updates to follow once available.