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Appeal denied in family feud murders

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A Winnipeg man has lost his bid for a new trial in the killing of a pregnant woman and her husband inside their city home.

Kelly Clarke was found guilty last year of two counts of first-degree murder and given a mandatory sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 25 years. He returned to court today, arguing the jury's verdict should be overturned.

Clarke, 42, cited several alleged mistakes by the judge and Crown attorney throughout the trial. He claimed prosecutor Gerry Bowering's closing argument was prejudicial because he mentioned that the infant daughter of the two victims, Joel and Magdalena Labossiere, was home at the time of the killings and has now been left an orphan. Defence lawyer Greg Brodsky had fought for a mistrial but was rejected.

The Appeal Court heard arguments today from Brodsky and the Crown, then adjourned for about an hour before returning to say they would not interfere in the case and the verdicts would stand.

Clarke claimed he was not responsible for the April 2008 slayings in St. Vital. Jurors clearly accepted the evidence of Crown witness Steven Solomon, who testified Clarke used his gun to smash a window before going inside and killing the screaming couple as they begged him to stop.

Brodsky attacked the credibility of Solomon's testimony at trial and had urged the jury to acquit Clarke. Solomon was not charged for his role in the deaths and is in the witness-protection program.

Jurors heard the double homicide was connected to a triple killing in a St. Leon farmhouse in 2005 in which Joel Labossiere's grandparents and uncle, Fernand and Rita Labossiere and their adult son Remi, died. They were fatally shot before the house was set on fire. That case touched off a bitter family dispute about the couple's $1.3-million estate that is still before the courts.

Joel Labossiere was in a court battle with his uncle, Jerome Labossiere -- Fernand and Rita's son -- over the estate, and had taken out a protection order barring Jerome from contacting him and his immediate family, according to court documents.

Jerome Labossiere had appealed the order, saying he was not a threat to anyone. Police believe a copy of Remi's will Jerome Labossiere produced after the killings -- which left the entire estate to him and his family -- was a fraud. A previous will from Remi Labossiere had left everything to his six nieces and nephews.

Jeorme was convicted last year of three counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of his parents and brothers and given a life sentence with no chance of parole for at least 25 years. He is currently appealing the verdict.

Two other men, Jeremie Toupin and Michael Hince, were also charged. Toupin agreed to become a Crown witness in exchange for pleading guilty to reduced charges of second-degree murder and receiving the mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 10 years. Hince was acquitted entirely by the same jury that found Labossiere guilty of organizing the triple slaying.

www.mikeoncrime.com

 

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