Jury finds Leamington man guilty of second degree murder
A Leamington man has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of his best friend.
Andrew Cowan, 45, was charged with first degree murder after a crash on Oct. 21, 2012 killed 53-year-old Edward Witt.
A jury of 10 women and two men found Cowan guilty of second-degree murder in a ruling handed down late Wednesday night.
Court heard Cowan was driving Witt's pickup truck after a night of gambling, and the truck was travelling more than 150 km/h up a flower bed embankment before it crashed into the second floor of a building in Leamington.
Witt was a passenger in the truck and was killed.
Cowan's defence argued the crash was part of a suicide pact while the Crown suggested it was Cowan's plan all along.
Cowan's lawyer Pat Ducharme says his client is disappointed with the ruling.
"He was hopeful that they would accept the fact that he was simply in the process of taking his own life with his best friend," says Ducharme. "But obviously they did not make that finding."
Assistant Crown Attorney Tom Meehan admits the complexity of the case was unique and tough for the jury.
"The amount of work and effort and thought that they put into this is absolutely remarkable," says Meehan of the jury. "They put their heads together and concluded what they thought was the appropriate verdict after a lot of hard work."
Justice Kelly Gorman is allowing Cowan to be in the custody of his family until his sentencing.
A verdict of second-degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence. The jury is recommending Cowan be eligible for parole after 10 years.
Durcharme adds it's too early to make a decision about an appeal.
Cowan will be back in court Sept. 8 when both parties will decide on a sentencing date.