Jamie Bacon in an undated photo.
Mistrials resulting from deadlocked juries are extremely rare and are a sign that the judicial system is working, former B.C. attorney general Wally Oppal said Sunday.Oppal said the public should not be concerned that jurors could not reach a verdict in the case of Jamie Bacon, who is charged with one count of counselling someone to commit murder in late 2008.Jurors told B.C Supreme Justice Catherine Wedge Saturday night that they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict in the case after three and a half months of evidence and submissions.Wedge then declared a mistrial and put the case over to June 14 to fix a new trial date.Oppal, a former judge and prosecutor, said the result indicates “that the jury was very conscientious and that people had strong views as to whether or not the Crown had proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt.”“I think it’s a sign that the system is working and that 12 people took their jobs very seriously,” Oppal said.Having a second Bacon trial “is inconvenient. It is costly,” he said.“But the fact is that we have to realize that the consequences of the accused are enormous. And we want to get a verdict that is right as opposed to one that they simply agreed on for the sake of convenience.”
Wally Oppal at his office in Vancouver, B.C. May 25, 2015.
Arlen Redekop /
During the trial, jurors heard that Bacon wanted his former pal Dennis Karbovanec dead because Karbovanec was addicted to Oxycontin, increasing erratic, sleeping with young women and neglecting their joint drug business.Witnesses, who can only be identified as AB and CD due to a publication ban, both testified that Bacon asked CD to shoot Karbovanec and provided the Glock 45 used in the murder attempt.CD told jurors he was nervous because he had never killed before, but knew he had to do what Bacon suggested in order to clear a large drug debt he had with Bacon.AB described what happened on New Year’s Eve 2008 when he, CD and others in their drug gang lured Karbovanec into meeting them on the ruse that they were all going to rob a marijuana growing operation.They drove to a dead-end Mission street where they stopped their vehicles and got out, the two witnesses said.CD pulled out the Glock and started blasting in Karbovanec’s direction, but the gun jammed and Karbovanec and a second associate named Matt Johnston managed to escape.But the credibility of both AB and CD was repeatedly challenged by Bacon’s lawyers Kimberly Eldred and Kevin Drolet. The lawyers portrayed the men as thuggish drug dealing liars who fabricated Bacon’s role in the murder plot to get themselves off the hook.Eldred said in an email Sunday that she wanted “to express our appreciation and that of Mr. Bacon for the hard work, sacrifice and dedication of all of the jurors.”“We will continue to vigorously defend Mr. Bacon in any retrial,” Eldred said.B.C.’s highest-profile mistrial occurred in 2004 in the case of Kelly Ellard. She was originally convicted in 2000 of killing 14-year-old Reena Virk three years earlier. But the verdict was overturned on appeal.
Kelly Ellard and her father Lawrence leave the Vancouver courthouse, March 30, 2000.
ADRIAN WYLD /
THE CANADIAN PRESS
The jury in her second trial was deadlocked, resulting in the mistrial. She was convicted after a third trial.Oppal said that in all his years on the bench, he never experienced a jury that could not reach a verdict though there were times when they struggled to do so.“A judge always tells a jury to listen to the views of others in a jury room and compromise when you can as long as it’s not contrary to your conscious,” Oppal said. “But it may have well been in this case that there were strong views on one side and strong views on the other side. That is really what it means to me, that they couldn’t agree.”Judges in jury cases always suggest that deadlocked jurors take more time to see if they can reach a conclusion,” Oppal said.He would tell jurors in his cases that “if you can’t reach a decision then another jury will have to be empanelled, another trial will take place and they will have to decide the same issues.”But judges also tell jurors that they should “not adopt a position that is contrary to your views,” Oppal said.“Jurors take their job very seriously.”firstname.lastname@example.org: vancouversun.com/tag/real-scooptwitter.com/kbolan