Courts

‘Could have walked away’: Closing arguments given in Cromwell murder trial

Defence argues there was no intent to kill in Tremblay stabbing

The jury for the Aidan David Cromwell murder trial heard two narratives about the accused, as the Crown and defence presented their closing arguments Monday.

In one, a frightened Cromwell used a knife to defend himself and his girlfriend. In the other, he stabbed a man in the heart over an insult.

Cromwell, 24, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 25-year-old Marc Bernard Tremblay in 2012. Cromwell has pleaded not guilty.

Crown attorney Rick Woodburn told jurors at Nova Scotia Supreme Court that Cromwell made a fatal decision when he stabbed Tremblay.

“There were other things he could have done,” said Woodburn. “He made a choice to put that knife in his hand.”

Defence attorney David Bright focused on his client’s intent. He said there was no evidence Cromwell meant to kill Tremblay.

Family of both Tremblay and Cromwell watched quietly as both lawyers spoke.

Earlier in the trial, the jury heard that on the evening of Feb. 2, 2012, there was a confrontation between Cromwell and Tremblay, near Ashdale Avenue and Titus Street in Fairview.

Tremblay was intoxicated, the jury heard. He yelled insults at Cromwell and his girlfriend, telling them “you suck.”

Cromwell said in a police statement he didn’t know what Tremblay wanted and felt threatened by the larger man.

“I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Cromwell said to police.

The jury heard Cromwell had a knife in his backpack. He kicked Tremblay to get away, then stabbed him. The knife pierced Tremblay’s heart and the blade broke off.

Cromwell was arrested at his girlfriend’s home a few hours later.

Cromwell’s lawyer asks for manslaughter

Bright argued self-defence and provocation as the reasons for his client’s actions.

“If you find that he did not have the state of mind for murder, then an appropriate response would be a finding of manslaughter,” Bright said to the jury Monday.

Bright asked jurors to put themselves in Cromwell’s shoes, saying Cromwell had reasonable grounds to believe he was being threatened. Bright argued Cromwell felt he was in a dangerous neighbourhood, facing an unpredictable, large individual.

“Violence happens very quickly,” said Bright.

Bright said Cromwell had been provoked, which would reduce second-degree murder to manslaughter.

“He lost self-control because he was afraid and concerned by what was happening,” Bright said of Cromwell.

“There’s no evidence he meant to kill Tremblay.”

Crown argues murder

Woodburn called the case straightforward. He said Tremblay was stabbed with enough force for the knife to go through his sternum and break off in his heart. He argued Cromwell either had intent to kill or harm Tremblay causing death.

“It’s common knowledge if you put a knife in that area, you can cause death,” said Woodburn.

Woodburn questioned Cromwell’s actions after the stabbing. He asked why Cromwell did not call 911 or go to a nearby pizza shop that was open. Instead, Woodburn said, Cromwell fled the area.

Woodburn argued video evidence showed Cromwell had the opportunity to leave the situation before it escalated. He said security footage from across the street showed there was an 18-second window between the time Cromwell walked off-screen and the stabbing.

“Eighteen seconds is a lifetime for Marc because Aidan could have walked away,” said Woodburn.

Justice Timothy Gabriel will deliver closing instructions Tuesday before sending the jury to deliberate.