Joel Lawrence Clow was back before Justice Nancy Key in P.E.I. Supreme Court to hear her verdict after a nine-day trial that adjourned on May 26.
As she delivered her decision, Key said she didn’t accept evidence that Clow did not have the intent to kill Traci Lynch.
“This is not manslaughter. This is murder,” she said.
Before the proceedings got underway, a pair of sheriffs escorted a shackled Clow to the prisoners’ box where two walls and a glass divider separated him from everyone else in the courtroom.
Security was heightened as two other sheriffs watched from the public gallery and more were outside the courtroom where about 50 people waited to hear the verdict.
Before she started reading her verdict, Key said it was a difficult decision to write and would be an even more difficult one to read.
“This will be an emotional day, however emotional outbursts will not be tolerated,” she said.
Everyone heeded that warning.
Throughout most of the almost three hours it took to read the verdict, the only sounds in the courtroom were Key speaking, her clerk typing, an occasional cough and the jangle of Clow’s handcuffs in the prisoners’ box.
Clow acknowledged his actions in the early hours of July 24, 2015, in Pleasant Grove were responsible for Lynch’s death.
An autopsy found Lynch was badly beaten with injuries to her face, neck, torso, back and extremities.
She died of a blunt-force blow to the head and strangulation.
Clow denied that he meant to kill Lynch, and that question of intent was one of the issues Key had to address in determining if the accused was guilty of manslaughter or murder.
In coming to the conclusion Clow committed murder, Key reviewed 58 exhibits from the Crown, four from the defence and testimony from 25 witnesses.
Some of that evidence dealt with the amount of drugs and alcohol Clow consumed.
The defence argued there was significant doubt Clow was able to foresee that his actions were likely to cause Lynch’s death.
Key found that based on the evidence, Clow hadn’t consumed a large quantity of drugs in the 24 hours before the police found him in his home on July 24, 2015.
Although Clow had taken some drugs and alcohol, he was aware of what he was doing, Key said.
With her decision that Clow had the intent to commit murder, Key turned her attention to the Crown’s argument that he killed Lynch while committing unlawful confinement.
Key said there was a lot of uncertainty about what happened the night Lynch died and the Crown didn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was first-degree murder.
Along with the murder, Clow was also facing several other charges, including indecent interference with human remains.
His lawyer entered a guilty plea on that charge on his behalf and the Crown stayed two other charges.
Clow will be back in court Oct. 2 for sentencing.
The sentence for second-degree murder is life in prison and Key will have to decide on how long Clow will be there before he is eligible for parole.