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Jury begins deliberations in trial of special constables charged in jail-cell death
Corey Rogers lies on the floor under police custody at the Halifax police station, wearing a spit hood at about 11 p.m. on June 15, 2016, in this still image taken from surveillance video provided by Nova Scotia Courts. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Province of Nova Scotia Courts)
HALIFAX – The jury was not able to reach a verdict Friday in the trial of two special constables charged with criminal negligence in the death of a man in a Halifax jail cell.
Booking officers Dan Fraser and Cheryl Gardner are accused of not providing the proper checks while Corey Rogers was in their custody.
Both have pleaded not guilty to criminal negligence causing death.
Friday morning, Justice Kevin Coady provided instructions to the four women and eight men on the jury. He told them to review the evidence carefully and warned them not to be influenced by media reports or anything they may have seen or heard outside the courtroom.
Coady reminded them that the burden of proof rests with the Crown, which has to prove the defendants are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Coady also told the jury that Fraser and Gardner should be judged individually, and not as a team, so it is possible that they receive different judgements.
The jury began deliberations before noon and broke off deliberations around 5 p.m.
They will be sequestered in a hotel overnight and begin again Saturday morning.
The judge has instructed them not to discuss the case outside of the jury room.
During the trial, the jury watched hours of video that was recorded that night in the police cells after Rogers was arrested for public intoxication outside the IWK Health Centre on June 15, 2016.
Rogers was placed in a jail cell while still wearing a spit hood. Court heard he died from suffocation after vomiting into the spit hood.
David Bright, the defence lawyer for Fraser, told the jury that Rogers was "playing possum," by passively resisting.
He detailed the dangers of being a booking officer, and said Fraser did his job the way he was told to.
Ron Pizzo, the defence lawyer for Gardner, said the special constable was never trained on how to use or remove a spit hood.
When she checked on Rogers, she wasn't required to enter his cell, and she performed her duties appropriately, he told the court.
Crown Attorney Chris Vanderhooft was firm in pushing the jury to convict both Gardner and Fraser.
He told the jury they didn't properly check the 'four Rs' -- rousing the prisoner, checking responses to both questions and commands, and remembering other illnesses.
He also said that Fraser reported checks that never happened, while Gardner should have been more thorough.