Facebook photo of Steven Boone.
A self-described “poz vampire” who set out to deliberately infect his sexual partners — including two teen boys — with HIV has had his convictions for attempted murder quashed and a new trial ordered by the Court of Appeal for Ontario.Steven Boone was convicted in October 2012 of three counts of attempted murder and three courts of aggravated sexual assault of four victims for having unprotected sex with the men. A jury also convicted him of two counts of administering a noxious thing — his sperm — and one count of attempting to administer a noxious thing, but those charges were ultimately stayed. The jury acquitted him of two counts of aggravated sexual assault of another two men.In March 2016, after a lengthy delay, Boone was given a 14-year sentence, less time served, and handed a long-term supervision order.In a decision released Monday, the appeal court ruled that the 2012 trial judge erred in her instruction to the jury when she failed to spell out that in order to convict Boone of attempting to murder his partners that he had to believe that death was a certainty after they contracted the virus.Boone learned he was HIV positive in 2009 when he was 28 years old. According to evidence at trial, Boone had been in a serious relationship with the person from whom he contracted the virus. Boone did disclose his status to friends but after learning he was HIV positive, he continued to have unprotected sex with men he met on dating websites.Evidence at trial showed that Boone was immersed in the “bug-chasing culture,” he boasted about infecting other men with HIV, and he spoke openly in text about his high viral load and how he resisted taking antiretroviral drugs specifically because the medicine would make it harder to infect his sexual partners.Chat and text conversations showed that he lied to his partners about his status so they would have sex with him and that he described misusing and manipulating condoms, including by poking holes in them, to trick partners into believing intercourse was protected.“I love turning dudes poz,” he wrote online “Feels intense knowing I’m marking them for life with my DNA … I want a neg boy to turn poz so he’s mine.”At trial, Boone’s defence maintained that any online discussions were simply fantasy and role-playing.The prosecution, however, argued to the jury that Boone was just being honest about what he wanted and what he intended to do.In order for the offence of attempted murder to be made out, the jury had to be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Boone had unprotected anal sex with the complainants and ejaculated inside the men. It was admitted fact that he did. But the jury also had to be satisfied that he had the intention to kill his partners, not just infect them with HIV.“The Crown had to prove either that (Boone’s) purpose was to kill his partners, or that he believed that eventual death from AIDS was a virtual certainty,” the appeal court wrote.While there was strong evidence that he wanted to infect his partners and evidence that Boone knew that HIV could lead to AIDS and thereby if it was left untreated there was also evidence that Boone thought that even if his partners got HIV that they wouldn’t necessarily die from AIDS.“It was essential that the jury be told that it could convict the appellant on the attempted murder charges only if satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the appellant acted with the purpose of killing each of the complainants, or that he believed their death at some point in the future from AIDS was a virtually certain consequence of HIV infection.”The trial judge did not give instructions that made that clear to the jury, the appeal court ruled.While the attempted murder convictions have been quashed, the appeal court has ordered a new trial if prosecutors wish to proceed retrying the charges.The 14-year sentence, just more than nine years minus time he already served, imposed on Boone was a global sentence that took into account his the multiple convictions.The appeal court has invited submissions on sentencing for the aggravated sexual assault charges, if no attempted murder retrial is firstname.lastname@example.org/shaaminiwhy