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Jury deliberates in Labossière murder case

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It was a cold-blooded execution of a Winnipeg man and his pregnant wife in their own home.

Now a jury is debating whether justice officials have either caught the killer or put an innocent man on trial.

Deliberations began Wednesday afternoon into the fate of Kelly Clarke, who has pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder.

Clarke, 41, is accused of gunning down of Joel and Magdalena Labossière in their St. Vital home in April 2008. Their one-year-old daughter was asleep in her nearby crib but wasn’t injured.

Crown and defence lawyers made closing arguments on Monday, giving vastly different accounts of the evidence presented during the two-week trial.

Prosecutor Gerry Bowering said there is "overwhelming" evidence against and the verdict should be clear. That includes the crucial eyewitness testimony by Steven Solomon, a man who was allegedly with Clarke at the time of the shootings and gave a detailed account of how it went down.

"It was deliberate. It was planned. It was murder in the first degree," said Bowering.

Court heard that Clarke allegedly used his gun to smash a window before going inside and killing the couple, with Solomon nearby.

Police later recovered a sawed-off shotgun from the Assiniboine River, thanks to directions from Solomon. Police also seized surveillance video showing Clarke and Solomon purchasing clothing from Walmart in the hours before the slayings.

Defence counsel Greg Brodsky attacked the credibility of Solomon's testimony and urged the jury to acquit Clarke.

"There's no link in this case of Kelly Clarke to that house," said Brodsky.

Bowering told the court earlier in the trial that the double homicide in the St. Vital home was connected to a triple killing in a St. Leon farmhouse in 2005, where Fernand and Rita Labossière died alongside their adult son Remi. The three were fatally shot before the building was set on fire.

That case touched off a bitter family dispute over the couple's estate, which still remains before the courts.

Solomon told the court before the killings on Chokecherry Cove he had driven Clarke to meet with Jerome Labossière -- who is one of Fernand and Rita's children, as well as Joel's uncle -- but the two had gone for a private drive without him. Jerome Labossière was charged in May 2008 with first-degree murder for their deaths, as well as three counts of conspiracy to commit murder, along with two other men, Michel Marc Hince and Jeremie Gerard Toupin.

Brodsky cautioned the jury that Solomon is not a reliable witness, pointing out the witness's past criminal record.

"There is no case without him," he said.

Solomon was not charged for his role in the deaths and has been placed in the witness protection program. Solomon also didn't discuss what happened the night of the homicide until he was under investigation by police for an unrelated matter, said Brodsky.

www.mikeoncrime.com

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