Canada
Error results in overturned BC murder conviction

Credits: CARMINE MARINELLI/QMI AGENCY

MICHAEL MUI | QMI AGENCY

VANCOUVER -- A judge's error in the first-degree murder jury conviction of Dustin Moir has given the accused a new trial.

Moir and his father, Jesse Blue West, were both arrested after the strangling death of Chelsey Acorn, 14, of Abbotsford, BC.

The error revolves around trial Justice William Grist's instruction to his jurors to consider Moir's sexual relationship with the teen as a murder motive, according to a decision Wednesday in the B.C. Court of Appeal.

"The implication was that he feared Chelsey would report him to the police for having sex with a minor," the appeal judge wrote. "The trial judge should not have instructed the jury that they consider this as a motive for Mr. Moir to kill Chelsey.

"This was an error in law."

The court noted testimony and previous statements from a witness, who was the only reason the trial judge determined a motive, was inconsistent.

Moir was convicted of first-degree murder in February 2010. His father was sentenced to life imprisonment earlier this month in the same case. West's conviction is not at issue.

It remains unclear, however, how exactly Acorn died. A doctor told the trial court the most likely cause was a rock to the head, apparently placed there to bury her in a shallow grave by Coquihalla Highway.

Moir told an undercover officer he strangled Acorn after his father started the attack, the court noted. He also testified he felt "compelled to exaggerate his involvement" to the person he thought was a crime boss at the time.

Lisa Acorn, the victim's mother, told CKNW Radio it'll be a "long process" for her family to relive.

"It's only because there were a few errors on the judge's behalf that we're even having to do this again," she said, "so I'm confident we're just going to have another conviction."

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