The trial of Michael Nehass has wrapped up and will likely be in the hands of the jury by this afternoon.
Lawyers and Nehass, who is representing himself, gave their closing arguments to jury members Thursday. Yukon Supreme Court Justice Scott Brooker is expected to give his final instructions this morning before they begin their deliberations.
The 31-year-old is facing four charges including assault with a weapon and forcible confinement.
They all date back to Dec. 21, 2011 when a Watson Lake woman alleges he dragged her into an apartment where he hit her, chocked her and threatened her with a knife.
Nehass did not call any witnesses and did not take the stand himself.
The alleged victim, Agnes Reid, took the stand more than a week ago.
The last witness was Kathy Bailey, who testified on the stand that she was in the apartment and saw Nehass attack Reid.
On the stand, both women described the assault.
But during cross examination Wednesday it was revealed that Bailey gave a recorded statement to the police about two weeks after the alleged attack where she denied even seeing Reid that day.
She now says she didn’t tell the police about the attack because she was afraid for her daughter who was friends with Nehass’s sister.
Both lawyers spent time talking about Reid and Bailey’s testimony yesterday.
Prosecutor Terri Kaur said Bailey and Reid’s evidence was essentially the same.
She said Reid was genuine and honest. She told the jury Reid had memories of the key elements of the evening. The parts she didn’t remember were reasonable considering everything that was going on, she said.
All the key elements of their testimony line up, she said. There’s no reason to disbelieve Bailey because she chose not to tell the police at the time, Kaur said. She made it clear she was concerned for her family.
Kaur pointed to testimony of the RCMP officer who took Reid’s statement that day and testified that Reid was agitated and scared.
One witness said she came home crying. Another said she had red marks. The other side has suggested those things may have been on a different day.
Kaur warned the jury to be wary of the defence’s “red herrings,” things she said were distracting from what the jury should be focused on.
That includes the fact that Reid had no serious injuries after the attack, which she said lasted 30 to 45 minutes, except for some red marks. Everyone reacts differently, Kaur said.
There is no evidence that Reid was involved in any sort of criminal activities, as the other side has suggested during the trial, she said, and nothing gave Nehass the right to do what he did.
The fact that Reid said she originally came to the building because Bailey owed her money, and Bailey denies owing her anything, is another red herring, she said.
But Bibhas Vaze, the court-appointed lawyer assigned to help in this case, said differences in the testimony are not red herrings. They’re “fundamentally important” pieces of evidence that are different, he said.
The defence in this case has been, from the beginning, that none of this ever happened; that the story the women told on the stand is completely unbelievable.
Vaze continued that train of thought right through his closing.
He said it doesn’t make any sense that Reid would be attacked for 30 to 45 minutes and come away with no injuries.
“I suppose it doesn’t make any sense because it didn’t happen,” he said.
He said it doesn’t make any sense that Reid would not yell or call for help when she was dragged into the apartment. No noise complaints were ever made, the court heard.
No photos of the crime scene were taken and no knife was found.
Reid told the jury Bailey followed her out of the apartment after Nehass let her go. Bailey made no mention of that in her testimony.
Vaze said it was also unbelievable that Reid would wait hours for her son-in-law to come home and take her granddaughter before calling police, even though she believed Nehass was still in the apartment building two minutes away from her home.
When it comes to Bailey, Vaze said she is a liar.
“We know she’s a liar, like I said, the only question is what is she lying about?”
Vaze suggested she was more truthful in the police statement years ago where she denied that anything happened.
When you line it all up, there is “significant doubt” about the truthfulness of Reid, Bailey or both, he said.
“If you’re lying about one thing, you’re probably lying about all of it, and that’s reasonable doubt,” he said.
Since he is representing himself, Nehass also got a chance to address the jury.
“I know it looks bad, but I need you to look at the facts,” he said.
He told them that he wasn’t a lawyer or a very good public speaker. He went through many of the same points Vaze would later mention.
“I need you guys here, I really do. Please, just look at the facts.”
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