APPEALS - Grounds - Bias - Miscarriage of justice - Powers of appellate court - New trial

Law360 Canada (July 29, 2022, 5:47 AM EDT) -- Appeal by Cowan from his conviction of second-degree murder following a trial by judge and jury, on grounds that there was a miscarriage of justice at his trial due to reasonable apprehension of bias. Cowan and Witt were best friends for many years. At the time of the incident, the two of them went to a casino and drank beers. They left the casino together. Cowan texted a friend saying he and Witt were considering suicide that night. Cowan purposely drove the truck off the road at high speed and the truck crashed. Witt died from his injuries six days later. Cowan survived but suffered serious brain injuries. The crown argued Cowan was depressed and decided to take his own life and killed Witt at the same time. Defence submitted Witt died because of a suicide pact that he and Cowan entered into that night and Cowan should therefore be acquitted. The jury returned a verdict of guilty of second-degree murder. The trial judge imposed a sentence of life imprisonment with a 10-year period of parole ineligibility. Cowan contended, based on fresh evidence that came to light after the jury’s verdict but before the sentence was imposed, that he could establish there was a reasonable apprehension of bias in this case related to the friendship between the trial judge and Crown counsel....
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