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COVID-19 outbreak sweeps through jury in Wright murder trial

Trial delayed again today after several jurors tested positive, court discussing possibility of ill jurors to continue participating virtually
Sudbury courthouse on Elm Street.

The second-degree murder trial of Robert Steven Wright was adjourned again on Monday, March 20, after what is now an outbreak of COVID-19 among the members of the jury.

Proceedings have been halted since March 16 after a juror tested positive for COVID-19 and needed to isolate. The other jury members, who had been in close quarters throughout the trial, were told to self-isolate through the weekend. Those who tested positive contacted the courthouse (the exact number of positive jurors was discussed during voir dire and can’t be reported). 

“You'll notice you’re again down a few members,” said Justice Robbie D. Gordon when the jury entered around 10:40 a.m. “The delay this morning was counsel and I discussing how we can proceed, and what we need is more time.”

There might be the chance for the ill jurors to participate again by Zoom, at least through to the completion of evidence, said Gordon. However, he indicated one juror is “not feeling well enough to participate virtually.

“We’re going to send you home for the day and ask you to come back in tomorrow morning at 10 a.m.,” said Gordon. “If you have symptoms, please stay home and let us know what your results are.” 

Wright is on trial for the second-degree murder of 23-year-old Laurentian University student Renée Sweeney, who was stabbed 27 times while working at a video store on Paris Street on Jan. 27, 1998. At the time, Wright was an 18-year-old student at Lockerby Composite School, which was within walking distance of the store where Sweeney worked.

The Crown has rested their case. The defence is currently presenting witnesses, including calling Wright, to the stand last week. 

Wright testified on Monday (March 13) and Tuesday (March 14.) He stated he found a bloodied Sweeney lying on the floor of the store, and believing she was already dead, he said he panicked and ran. 

Wright said the fingerprints found on a cash tray at the scene were his, as were the teal jacket and gloves that he testified to discarding after running from the store. They were later discovered by police.

Jenny Lamothe is a reporter at

Jenny Lamothe

About the Author: Jenny Lamothe

Jenny Lamothe is a reporter with She covers the diverse communities of Sudbury, especially the vulnerable or marginalized.
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