The family of Chelsie Probert gasped and sighed in court as the judge found the Dartmouth, N.S., teenager accused of killing her not guilty of second-degree murder but guilty of manslaughter.
Judge Elizabeth Buckle said she was not presuaded beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused stabbed Probert.
Probert, 18, was stabbed to death on a path in north-end Dartmouth in June 2017. The Crown described her death as the result of a botched robbery attempt.
Halifax youth court has heard that two people were with Probert when she was fatally stabbed: the now 17-year-old boy who was charged in her death and his 20-year-old acquaintance.
The teen’s identity is protected by a publication ban.
In previous coverage of this case, CBC News did not identify the 20-year-old acquaintance due to a concern that it might inadvertently identify the accused. CBC News is now satisfied this is no longer a concern and is naming him as Laurie Robert Taylor.
The trial, which was being heard by judge alone, heard that Probert was the third person the pair tried to rob that night.
In her decision read in court on Friday, Buckle said she believed the Crown was able to prove both the youth and Taylor had a common purpose when they went out with weapons to rob people the night Probert was killed.
She said evidence presented in court shows that Probert’s injuries were on her left side, indicating her attacker was right-handed. The youth accused in her death is left-handed, Taylor is right-handed.
Neither said Probert turned or tried to run away during the attack, said Buckle, casting reasonable doubt on who stabbed Probert.
Both the teen and the 20-year-old testified in the trial. Each blamed the other for the fatal stabbing.
Taylor was the Crown’s key witness, but throughout the trial the defence painted him as an accomplished liar and criminal, and suggested he was actually the killer.
Taylor previously testified that he is an avid marijuana user, drinks heavily, has abused pills, is a low-level drug dealer, has threatened someone and wanted to buy a weapon.
The Crown countered that it is the 17-year-old boy charged in the case who should not be believed. The accused testified in his own defence and the Crown said there were serious discrepancies in his evidence.
In her decision on Friday, Buckle said she didn’t believe many of the details presented in court by both the youth and Taylor.