The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled Peter Khill will have to stand trial again for second degree murder in the shotgun killing of Jon Styres in 2016. The incident occurred when Khill was awakened at his Glanbrook home by a noise in the driveway and went to his door armed with a shotgun, where he saw Styres, an unarmed resident of Six Nations, apparently trying to steal his vehicle. In a short confrontation that ensued Khill fired the weapon, killing Styres. Khill was acquitted of second degree murder in a 2018 jury trial, but an Ontario Supreme Court ordered a new trial on appeal from the Crown. The Crown argued that the trial judge had failed to adequately instruct the jury about considering Khill’s actions leading up to to the shooting. This latest ruling upheld the Ontario Supreme Court in calling for a new trial on charges of second-degree murder.
Some of the comments in the decision include:
- But human life is at stake on both sides of the equation and we should be cautious as to how readily we legally sanction the actions of those who take the lives of others.
- It was Mr. Khill who approached Mr. Styres with a loaded firearm. And it was Mr. Khill who, upon addressing Mr. Styres, pulled the trigger. According to Mr. Khill’s own testimony, before he decided to leave the house and initiate the confrontation, he had allayed his initial fears by confirming that there were no intruders in the house itself. Specifically, Mr. Khill acknowledged having exposed himself to a potentially dangerous situation:
- Q. All right. And you go out there by yourself armed and exposed to the guy in the truck, correct?
- Q. And the – that plan is entirely yours, right? You have brought this state of affairs about. There’s a guy stealing your truck, but you have decided, on your own, to go out by yourself and expose yourself to what you believe could be serious danger?
- On these admitted facts he had a central role in creating a highly risky scenario.
- fact finders must take into account the extent to which the accused played a role in bringing about the conflict or sought to avoid it. They need to consider whether the accused’s conduct throughout the incident sheds light on the nature and extent of the accused’s responsibility for the final confrontation that culminated in the act giving rise to the charge.
The decision noted that “the time between Mr. Khill’s shouts and the subsequent gunshots was near-instantaneous. The opportunity to call 911, shout from the doorway or fire a warning shot — alternatives raised by the Crown in cross-examination — had long passed at this juncture. Had the jury been instructed to consider Mr. Khill’s “role in the incident”, their minds would necessarily have had to resolve how the accused’s initial response to a loud noise outside his home suddenly placed him in a situation where he claims he felt compelled to kill Mr. Styres.”