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Man killed daughter to make his estranged wife suffer, Crown tells murder trial

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  • ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — A Crown prosecutor says a Newfoundland man murdered his five-year-old daughter in a calculated plan to inflict suffering on her mother, his estranged wife.

    A St. John’s, N.L., court heard closing arguments Thursday in the trial of Trent Butt, who is accused of the first-degree murder of his daughter Quinn in his Carbonear, N.L., home in April 2016.

    The courtroom was packed after an emotionally wrought trial that already heard from fire and medical experts, Butt himself and Quinn’s mother, Andrea Gosse.

    The jury deliberated for about four hours Thursday before retiring for the evening, and will resume Friday morning. 

    No one is arguing outright that Butt didn’t kill his daughter. The jury is being asked to decide whether the death was planned and deliberate, which would mean Butt is guilty of first-degree murder, or if he is guilty of a lesser charge.

    Butt testified earlier that he did not remember killing Quinn, but said he found himself over her body and concluded he must have suffocated her.

    Butt said he decided to take his own life and set fire to his home, leaving a lengthy suicide note in his truck that mostly detailed his frustrations with Gosse.

    In the letter, Butt wrote he did not know how he killed Quinn and stated “I have thought about it for some time.”

    “Quinn is with me now because I could not die knowing she would be left with Andrea,” a section of Butt’s letter read, repeated aloud in the provincial supreme court Thursday.

    Crown lawyer Lloyd Strickland pointed to the note, which he described as “rife with hatred” of Gosse, as proof that Butt planned to kill Quinn to keep her from her mother.

    Strickland argued that considering Butt planned to take his own life, he did not try to hide his true motivations in the note.

    “In this letter, Trent Butt told the world exactly what was in his head,” Strickland said.

    “These words amount to a confession of first-degree murder.”

    Strickland argued that Butt’s actions surrounding the killing — like purchasing an unusual quantity of gasoline and disconnecting the home’s smoke alarms — were part of his “cold, calculated” murder-arson-suicide plot to cause Gosse pain. 

    Both Strickland and Justice Donald Burrage drew attention to Butt’s earlier testimony that he reacted to Quinn’s death by concluding he must have suffocated her, rather than trying to resuscitate her or calling for medical assistance.

    Butt’s lawyer, Derek Hogan, told the court there was no way to know Butt’s thought process on the night Quinn was killed.

    Hogan argued the letter outlined a plan for suicide and not murder, leaving reasons to doubt whether Butt planned the killing in advance.

    “We’ve got a collection of maybes that adds up to a maybe. Maybe he planned to killed Quinn, maybe he didn’t,” Hogan said.  

    “There are reasons to doubt the murder was deliberate.”

    In his charge to the jury, Burrage said the evidence had already proven Butt unlawfully killed Quinn, and that jurors must determine whether Butt planned the killing in advance.

    Burrage also asked the jurors to put aside their emotions while considering the case’s distressing evidence.

    “This has proven to be an emotionally charged trial. A man stands charged with the first-degree murder of his own daughter,” Burrage said.

    “You must put aside any feelings of emotion you may harbour, consider the evidence with an open mind and make your decision without sympathy, prejudice or fear.”

    Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press

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    Scheer accuses Trudeau of ‘stacking the deck’ to get re-elected

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  • OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says the Liberals’ decision to name an anti-Conservative union to a panel that will decide which media outlets receive government funding is the latest example of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “stacking the deck” in his favour to get re-elected in October.

    Scheer told The Canadian Press today he believes the decision to include Unifor on the panel — which will determine eligibility for a $600-million bailout package —is unacceptable and will undermine the credibility of the panel’s work.

    Unifor has campaigned against the Conservative party and the union has recently published tweets calling itself Scheer’s “worst nightmare.”

    Scheer says this is the latest in a string of moves by Trudeau to give himself an upper hand ahead of the fall federal election.

    He also points to changes made to pre-election spending for political parties that impose restrictions that he says mainly affect the Conservative party, while no limits have been placed on government spending or travel in advance of the writ period.

    Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez has defended Unifor’s place on the panel, saying the union represents over 12,000 journalists and media workers and has been included among other journalism groups to ensure broad representation from the industry.

    The Canadian Press

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    Police say it’s “impressive” no arrests were made after Raptors celebrations

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  • Toronto police say it’s “impressive” that they didn’t have to arrest anyone after the Raptors’ historic win on Saturday night sent thousands of celebratory fans careening onto the streets.

    The roar of fans cheering and chanting “We the North” and “Let’s go Raptors” flooded the downtown core after Canada’s sole NBA team earned a spot in the final for the first time in franchise history.

    On social media, videos emerged of fans running into intersections and dancing on top of streetcars and buses, but on Sunday, police spokeswoman Katrina Arrogante confirmed that not a single arrest was made.

    “It’s impressive. It certainly is,” said Arrogante. “We’re amazed — police were there to keep the peace and that’s exactly what happened.”

    The festivities ramped up shortly after 11 p.m. when the Raptors defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 100-94, becoming the Eastern Conference champions and advancing to the NBA Finals.

    Earlier in the day, fans lined up for hours to pack Jurassic Park, but a thunderstorm prompted Toronto police to post on Twitter that they wouldn’t open the fan zone on schedule because of safety concerns. The ban was lifted an hour later and Jurassic Park quickly overflowed with Raptors supporters who braved the rain to watch the game outside Scotiabank Arena.

    There was a heavy police presence as some fans got rowdy, but officers say everyone managed to stay out of trouble as the celebrations continued.

    Arrogante said officers were called to various spots around the city to assist with crowd control and directing traffic, but no one was arrested. She said she saw videos of fans dancing on streetcars but said there were no reported injuries, and in terms of arrests: “nothing came out of that,” she said.

    “It turned out better than it could have,” said Arrogante.

    She said police will be out again Thursday night when the Raptors play the Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors in Game 1 and she hopes fans will continue to have fun safely.

    Arrogante said fans planning on drinking should get a designated driver or take public transit.

    “We’re reminding anyone that is going to be celebrating or taking part in any events forthcoming of the playoffs, is to be respectful.”

    Alanna Rizza, The Canadian Press

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