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'This wasn't self-defence': closing arguments begin in Windsor murder trial

 Thomas "T.J." McIntyre. (Submitted to CTV News) Thomas "T.J." McIntyre. (Submitted to CTV News)
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Closing arguments have begun in a murder trial in Windsor.

Ryan Taylor, 35, has pleaded not guilty to a single charge of second-degree murder.

On Monday, the defence told the jury they would not call any evidence so the trial moves on to closing arguments.

Taylor is charged as a result of the injuries Thomas 'TJ' McIntyre, 38, suffered on Sept. 23, 2020.

"Mr. Taylor, what he intended, was clear," Assistant Crown Attorney Andrew Telford-Keogh said Monday. "This wasn't self-defence. This was frustration. This was anger. This was an unlawful killing."

Telford-Keogh reminded the jury of key pieces of evidence (surveillance video inside and outside the bar) and critical testimony (two eyewitnesses to the fight).

On that night, both men were at the same Seminole Street bar.

The jury learned Taylor was involved in a minor disagreement with one of McIntyre's friends. The defence has argued Taylor was worried for his own safety as a result.

Telford-Keogh however asked the jury to consider why Taylor stayed at the bar, ordered another beer, asked for a cigarette from the bartender, talked to other patrons, slowly left the bar and walked away slowly towards his home.

"Is this a man who's in fear, it doesn't appear that way," Telford-Keogh said. "Why doesn't he just leave?"

The prosecutor reminded the jurors Taylor only expressed concern for his safety after the bartender refused to call police, and Telford-Keogh asked the jurors to question why Taylor didn't call them himself or why he didn't bother to call a cab and leave.

"And he lingers. He just.. kept.. talking," Telford-Keogh said.

Once outside the bar, the jury re-watched surveillance video of Taylor walking backwards away from the bar.

Telford-Keogh concedes McIntyre comes into the footage, running towards Taylor but after that, the Crown attorney argued Taylor had intention with how he reacted.

"Mr. Taylor charged at Mr. McIntyre, taking him to the ground. Mr. Taylor straddled Mr. McIntyre. Mr. McIntyre was not.. fighting.. back," Telford-Keogh said. "Mr. Taylor grabbed Mr. McIntyre by the shirt and struck him five times in the head."

Telford-Keogh's theory of the crime was Taylor was embarrassed by the incidents inside the bar, where he tried to be friendly with McIntyre's friends but wasn't successful.

Telford-Keogh showed the jury police images on the same screen; on one side Taylor's right knuckles bloodied and swollen, on the other McIntyre's left side of his face bloodied, bruised and swollen. The jury had previously seen images of McIntyre's uninjured hands.

"And if it wasn't murder, it most certainly was manslaughter," Telford-Keogh concluded.

Thomas 'TJ' McIntyre died on Sept. 27 in hospital from complications of blunt force trauma to his head.

A forensic pathologist testified McIntyre's most serious injury could have happened either when he fell to the ground or when he was struck in the head.

The defence has now started their closing arguments.

“He was full of fear”

Defence lawyer Michael Gordner told the jury Taylor’s intent was to “preserve himself”.

“Individuals caught up in the circumstances of self-defence, are in the throws of frightening events in which their own wellbeing may be in peril,” Gordner said. “They do not have the benefit of a removed, clinical evaluation that a judge can conjure after the fact in a courtroom.”

He reminded the jurors Taylor and McIntyre had previously been involved in a fight and on Sept. 22 into Sept. 23, McIntyre’s friends rebuffed Taylors’ efforts to be friendly.

Gordner showed the jury the video of Taylor being lifted off his chair and taken to the ground by one of McIntyre’s friends.

Two minutes later, the jury has learned, the friends called McIntyre and asked him to come to the Seminole Street bar.

“That’s no coincidence,” Gordner said. “In his mind it all started with the fight inside the bar.”

Gordner reminded the jury the bartender’s evidence changed between the preliminary hearing and the trial. Ashley Lavin previously testified the mood in the bar was “dangerous” but at trial she told the jury she didn’t think so anymore.

Gordner said Taylor needed the bartender’s help to plan a safe way to leave the bar.

“You have to put yourself in my clients’ shoes, out there, by himself, in the road, with Mr. McIntyre charging two blocks at him,” Gordner said.

Gordner also pulled up the surveillance video of the fight for the jury.

It clearly shows McIntyre running towards Taylor but after that the video gets blurry.

“The real act that is the basis of this offence is the collision (tackling McIntyre by Taylor). That’s the act, was that reasonable in the circumstances?” Gordner questioned. “The act of defending himself was not only reasonable. It was necessary.”

Gordner, while admitting Taylor did punch McIntrye in the head, wants the jury to decide the fall to the ground was the most serious action but it was fully in self-defence.

“He was full of fear,” Gordner said.

As for the punches, Gordner said his client was on top of McIntyre for 16 seconds.

“Accused persons are not expected to weigh the nicety of the exact measure of force needed to achieve self defence,” Gordner said. “We have spent three, four weeks going through and parsing every detail. Ryan Taylor had seconds.”

The charge to the jury

Justice Renee Pomerance will begin her charge to the jury; a thorough review of the evidence in the trial and a detailed overview of the law for second-degree murder, manslaughter and self-defence.

Deliberations started at 4:45 p.m. on Monday.

The jury will remain sequestered until they reach a unanimous verdict.

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