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Crown asking jury to reject all evidence from Tyler Sels

Closing arguments in second-degree murder case complete
Sudbury Courthouse. (File)

The man who testified he stabbed and killed Charles St. Jean in the fall of 2018 lied and made inconsistent statements throughout his testimony, the Crown told a Superior Court jury Thursday morning.

Assistant Crown attorney Terry Waltenbury delivered his closing statements in the second-degree murder trial of Tyler Sels, who has admitted to stabbing and killing St. Jean and stabbing two other people.

Sels has taken “bits and pieces of utterances to weave together a story to justify his actions,” Waltenbury told the jury. “The Crown is asking you to reject his evidence in its entirety as unworthy in its belief.”

Waltenbury told the jury it is their job to determine how much, if any, of Sel’s evidence they can rely on.

“Even if you were to accept it, which the Crown urges you not to do, the Crown’s position is he did not act in legal self-defence and should be found guilty of all charges against him,” Waltenbury said. 

The Crown said evidence provided by Sels in his testimony is “significantly contradicted by other witnesses,” and called it an “after-the-fact fabrication.” 

Sels changed details and changed his story, “which is a little too convenient,” said Waltenbury.

He said the mechanics of the stabbing, as described by Sels, don’t make sense in relation to the stab wounds sustained by Charles St. Jean. 

Waltenbury further said Sels’ actions on Sept. 15, 2018, were not those of someone who was concerned about the safety of Theresa Grasley, as Sels testified, but those of someone who doesn’t like women being insulted or being done wrong by.

Waltenbury said Sels’ evidence does not conform to the objective evidence provided by the other Crown witnesses who testified throughout the trial, which is now in its fourth week.

“It seems very unlikely that Tyler Sels was telling the whole truth about what happened after the fact that night,” said Waltenbury. “His actions are designed to prevent evidence from being found and are indicative of someone trying to hide their tracks.”

Sels told the court in cross-examination that after he stabbed St. Jean, he changed his clothes, because he knew he was going to be arrested, and he wanted to be more comfortable. 

“With all due respect, it does not make any sense to do that unless you are trying to hide things,” said Waltenbury. 

Sels didn’t even mention changing his clothes in the examination in chief, and it only came out in cross-examination when questioned by the Crown, Waltenbury said.

Waltenbury said defence attorney Michael Puskas called witness Marc-André Leduce a liar in his closing statements on Wednesday.

Leduc isn’t trying to embellish anything, Waltenbury said. 

“He isn’t saying things like, Tyler Sels came to the door and said I’m going to kill all of you. If he wanted to embellish, he could have. He’s doing his best to relate to you what he saw from his vantage point.”

Leduc’s evidence “conforms to the subjective evidence,” Waltenbury said, and rather than being a liar, “this young man is, himself, a victim. Marc-André Leduc told you what happened, he didn’t add anything. The objective evidence fits with his evidence.”

Waltenbury said when dealing with second-degree murder, the Crown has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person meant to cause death, and did the person mean to cause bodily harm that he knows is likely to cause death or that death will likely ensue as a result.

Sels stabbed Charles St. Jean with intention, Waltenbury said. 

“He was reckless, he didn’t measure his use of force.”

As for self-defence, a number of considerations have to be made in order to determine self defence. Normally, it is not acceptable to stab another person with a knife, said Waltenbury. There are a few scenarios, but those are the only scenarios you can cross that line without legal consequence.

“It is our position that Tyler Sels went way too far,” said Waltenbury. “It is the Crown’s position that the defence of self defence fails due to the force used, and the acts of the accused must be reasonable in all circumstances.”

Waltenbury said it’s the Crown’s position that Sels had the knife hidden behind his back, rather than picking it up near the door where he testified he was being attacked by St. Jean and others.

“He was not defending, it was payback,” Waltenbury said. “No one else had a weapon.”

Waltenbury told the jury it’s not easy to stand in judgement of a fellow human being.

“You are not here to determine if they are a good person or a bad person; you are here to determine if the Crown has proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt, and that it is not a case of self defence.”

Superior Court Justice Dan Cornell started charging the jury Thursday.