Story updated Oct 3 to include new information.James Melvin Jr., who is representing himself during an attempted murder trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax, did not make a closing argument to the jury on Tuesday.
Melvin’s trial started with jury selection on September 11. He has pled not guilty to charges of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder. The Crown has accused Melvin of plotting to kill Terry Marriott Jr. on December 2, 2008.
On Tuesday morning, Crown Attorney Richard Woodburn laid out the “odyssey” that he says brought Melvin and his friends to the brink of killing Marriott—with guns in the car, driving toward their target—before being thwarted by police cars.
Woodburn pointed to various maps as he took the jury through a winding journey involving stops at two pizza parlours, a window escape, a drug-fuelled trek through the woods, several (sometimes reluctant) drivers, military-style weapons, cocaine runs, someone known as “Wacko” and an outfit change.
“Think about all those moving parts, just as I tell them right now,” said Woodburn. “In order to make this story up ‘to get’ Jimmy Melvin, think about all the moving parts you’d have to know, and you’d have to put into place, and then they’d have to come in front of you and testify to it all, and get it right. Or is this just what happened?”
When the jury returned from a break, Justice Peter Rosinski told the jury that Melvin would not be making a closing argument in his defence.
At the trial on Monday, Melvin declined to bring forth witnesses or evidence for his case. Rosinski had asked him if he planned to present evidence in front of the 13-person jury.
During the trial, two of the Crown’s array of witnesses told the jury that Melvin drove with them to the home of Melvin’s and Marriott’s mutual friend Derek MacPhee—where Marriott was visiting—and that they had planned to shoot Marriott before seeing several police cars around MacPhee’s house.
One of those witnesses, Jason Hallett, said he received immunity for a related charge in exchange for his testimony against “Lil’ Jimmy.” The other, Regan Heneberry, also faces related charges. Under cross-examination earlier in the trial by Melvin’s former attorney, Patrick MacEwen, Heneberry agreed that he felt pressured to speak against Melvin and that he hoped in exchange for being a witness, his charges would be dropped.
MacEwen, however, is no longer Melvin’s lawyer. Justice Rosinski told this to jurors on Wednesday last week: “For the remainder of the trial, Mr. Melvin will be representing himself.”
Melvin couldn’t find a new attorney to represent him for the rest of the trial, so the court has given him a legal advisor who will act as amicus curiae, or “a friend to the court,” to help him understand legal matters and ensure the trial is a fair one, Rosinski told the jury last Wednesday. (Attorney Peter Kidston has taken on this role.) The advisor would not cross-examine witnesses as a defense attorney would: “Mr. Melvin will be doing that,” said Rosinski.
The issues of Melvin’s representation “are entirely irrelevant to your deliberations as jurors,” said Rosinski last week, reminding the jury that their job was to decide on a verdict based on the evidence they received, “without sympathy, prejudice or fear.”
The jury will receive instructions on Wednesday.
—with files by Adina Bresge