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Murder Trial on Pause While Winnipeg Juror Tested for COVID-19

September 24, 2020 6:54 AM | The Canadian Press

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By Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press

Law Courts

People enter the Law Courts in Winnipeg on Monday, February 5, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods)

WINNIPEG — Jury deliberations for a second-degree murder trial in Manitoba have been put on hold so a juror can be tested for COVID-19.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Vic Toews told the remaining 11 jurors that the man was exhibiting symptoms and was not allowed to enter the courthouse.

The other jurors were sent home and advised to self-isolate until the man’s test results are complete.

Jury trials were suspended across the country in the spring as the justice system grappled with how to handle the pandemic.

They resumed in Manitoba at the start of September with the trial of Kane Moar, who is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Ricardo Hibi.

Hibi, a 34-year-old foster home manager, was stabbed to death in 2018.

The court put several protocols in place. Jury selections have been held in a large convention centre near the courthouse and there has been physical distancing in courtrooms during trials.

Masks also became mandatory after an employee at the Winnipeg courthouse tested positive for the novel coronavirus earlier this month.

Toews reassured jurors in the Moar trial about the precautions before sending them home Wednesday.

“At this time, the best advice I can give you is simply go home,” he said. “I would advise you to self-isolate over this period of time, minimize your contacts as much as you can and you will be contacted by the court as to when you come back.”

The judge said he was optimistic that jurors would return as soon as Thursday to hear the charge before beginning deliberations on a verdict. However, Toews said there may have to be other actions if the juror’s results come back positive for COVID-19.

“I’m taking instructions from the public health officials, not only in respect of the results of testing of your colleague on the jury, but what implications that has for you.”

Manitoba announced 42 new cases of COVID-19 in the province Wednesday, as the number of people testing positive in the capital city continued to surge.

Thirty of those new cases are in the Winnipeg health region and the province announced possible exposures at restaurants, bars and during a trivia night at a pub.

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer, said earlier this week he was worried by the rising numbers in Winnipeg, where some people who tested positive had visited multiple locations while symptomatic.

The province also announced confirmed cases in three more schools, but said the infections were not acquired in the classroom and the risk is low.

There have so far been 1,674 cases in Manitoba and 18 people have died.

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