The only reason Paul Calnen would go back to Reita Jordan’s body, burn it and dump the ashes into a lake, would be to cover up a homicide, said Crown attorney Rick Woodburn in closing arguments at the Nova Scotia Supreme Court on Wednesday.
The 52-year-old man is accused of killing his live-in girlfriend, 34.
Calnen is on trial for second-degree murder. He previously pleaded guilty to indecently interfering with human remains, admitting he threw Jordan’s body on a pyre and disposed of the evidence in the lake at his cottage.
The Crown and defence both delivered their final arguments to the jury.
Defence lawyer Peter Planetta said Calnen acted out of panic.
He said when Calnen came home the night of the Mar. 18, 2013, the couple started arguing over the fact she was planning to leave him. Jordan’s bags were packed and the two were at the top a staircase. Things got heated and she took a swing at Calnen, said Planetta.
“He ducks from the swing. Her momentum carries her and she falls over the bags and down the stars,” said Planetta in court. “These things happen quickly. Use your common sense.”
Planetta said when Calnen went to check on Jordan, he found her completely unresponsive. Calnen then tried unsuccessfully to revive her and panicked.
“He moves the body,” said Planetta. “Once he set that train in motion, he thought he would be accused wrongfully.”
Planetta said everything Calnen did from this point forward was because he thought no one would believe him.
Woodburn disagreed with that version of events.
He said what Calnen did with the body and his motive prove second-degree murder.
“When he gets home her bags are packed at the front door. He says he was pissed when he saw his laptop and belongings,” said Woodburn. “He lost it and killed her.”
Planetta said if there’s any doubt whatsoever that Calnen didn’t kill Jordan the way the Crown said he did, Calnen deserves to be freed.
Planetta said the Crown’s case required the jury to fill in the blanks and it didn’t prove Calnen committed second-degree murder beyond a reasonable doubt.
“It’s dressed up as theories. It’s woefully weak,” said Planetta. “You’ve been presented nothing that would be presented in a regular murder trial. There’s no body, no witnesses, no forensic evidence, and no motive.”
The Crown disagreed.
“When people destroy evidence – does that mean we don’t prosecute?” said Woodburn.
Outside court, Jordan’s parents said they would appreciate if Calnen told them where their daughter’s remains are located.
“I don’t think that day will ever come,” said Donna Jordan, Reita’s mother.
The jury will be given instructions Thursday morning by the judge before it begins its deliberations. The jury should reach a verdict soon after that.
About the author
Guillaume Lapointe-Gagner is a freelance journalist based out of Halifax. He currently attends the University of King's College master of journalism...