A man who claims he was wrongfully convicted of killing his elderly parents and brother will have to wait a while longer to try and prove his case.
Jérôme Labossière was expected to appear before the Manitoba Court of Appeal Thursday to seek a new trial. But the high-profile hearing was abruptly adjourned due to the absence of one of the lawyers. It likely won’t be heard now until early 2014.
Labossière was found guilty last year of three counts of first-degree murder, despite a lack of evidence he participated in the gruesome November 2005 attacks in St. Leon.
Fernand Labossière, his wife, Rita, and their son, Rémi, were gunned down inside their farmhouse. The residence was set on fire in an attempt to make their deaths look like an accident or suicide and to conceal evidence.
Labossière was automatically sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 25 years. But it was a much different story for Michael Hince and Jeremie Toupin, whom Labossière was found guilty of hiring to carry out the triple slaying.
Hince was acquitted by the same jury and walked out of court a free man. The Crown did not file an appeal of that verdict.
Toupin cut a deal with justice officials to become a witness against Labossière. In exchange, Toupin pleaded guilty to three reduced counts of second-degree murder and got the mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison with no parole eligibility for at least 10 years.
Labossière organized the murders because he was angry with his brother for getting the farm instead of him and, in his mind, not managing it properly while frittering away his money on gambling. The family farm, worth $1.3 million, was $500,000 in debt at the time.
Labossière is expected to argue the jury sent a bizarre mixed message with their verdict as it pertains to Toupin’s evidence: Jurors clearly believed Toupin when he said Labossière wanted his parents and brother killed, but thought he was lying when he said Hince helped do the killings.
He is also expected to take issue with the fact Keyser gave the jurors only a single choice: find Labossière guilty of first-degree murder or find him innocent. Usually judges give jurors in murder trials a chance to substitute lesser convictions, such as second-degree murder or manslaughter, if they don’t believe it was first-degree murder.