The Kingston Whig Standard News Reports

The Kingston Whig Standard News Reports

Murder suspect seeks bail, declines publication ban

“Anti-Black racism is not a figment of Black people’s imagination,” Defence Lawyer, Selwyn A. Pieters.

Susan Yanagisawa
Oct 26, 2021

 

The lawyer for a 20-year-old Ajax man charged with second-degree murder in the Aug. 12 shooting death of Kingston resident Jason Wagar has taken the unusual stance of refusing a publication ban on his client’s bail hearing, arguing that the issues involved in securing the young man’s interim release represent a public interest too important to keep under wraps.

Defence lawyer Selwyn A. Pieters suggested to a judge of the Superior Court of Justice on Monday that his client, Vaughan O. Roberts, a young Black man with no prior criminal record, was the target of a “racially motivated robbery” conspiracy initiated by Wagar, who was 43, white and possessed a substantial criminal record.

Pieters disclosed that he was basing his claim in part on a series of text messages stored on cellphones recovered by Kingston Police. The exchanges, between Wagar and a woman Pieters contends facilitated the attack on his client by removing the hockey stick that was securing the door to his room, are replete with racial slurs.

On the other hand, Pieters said, “there’s no evidence that Mr. Roberts bore any animus toward Mr. Wagar.”

Kingston Police charged Roberts after they were called to the area around Fergus and Concession streets, across from the Memorial Centre property, to investigate reports of a gun being discharged around 9:30 a.m. that Thursday. Officers found Wagar unresponsive inside a Fergus Street house where Roberts had been staying, and paramedics took him by ambulance to Kingston General Hospital, where he was declared dead.

Witnesses reported hearing voices arguing and then gunshots, according to Pieters. But he said police were told two men afterward fled the house, one of them his client, who turned onto Concession Street. The other man reportedly emerged carrying a black “billy club,” and Pieters suggested he was likely the man his client is charged with attempting to murder, an associate of Wagar’s who he suggested was a party to the robbery plot aimed at his client.

Pieter alluded to certain texts he said indicated the would-be robbers discussed arming themselves and noted that the room where Wagar was found was in chaos, but a couple of pellet guns, a billy club and a machete were found in the house and vicinity.

He told the judge the evidence against his client is entirely circumstantial “and there are large gaps.” But even if the prosecution can show that his client shot Wagar, he said “there’s strong evidence of self-defence.”

There were no eyewitnesses to the actual shooting, Pieters told the judge, and he suggested investigators should delve deeper into the part played by the man police identified as an attempted homicide victim, whose whereabouts, he said, were as of that moment unknown.

Roberts is also charged with firearms offences arising from the fatal shooting, and assistant Crown attorney Greg Skerkowski noted that when he was located and arrested that same morning, he was found to have a fanny pack containing the 9-mm handgun suspected to have fired the fatal bullet, as well as a backpack holding $7,000 in cash and 76 Percocet pills.

He argued that Roberts took the gun with him when he fled, intending to get rid of the evidence, and he opposed Roberts’ release, arguing that he didn’t appear to have a legitimate reason to be in Kingston, and there were indications he was engaging in a criminal lifestyle here, which, according to Skerkowski, is a public safety concern.

Pieters, on the other hand, argued that there’s systemic racism in the criminal justice system because the people who should have been charged were those who planned what he said was essentially a home invasion. “Anti-Black racism is not a figment of Black people’s imagination,” he told the judge.

Even if the Crown’s theory was correct and his client was “an unlicensed drug dealer,” Pieter told the judge it’s irrelevant because we don’t have two types of citizens in Canada and “it doesn’t mean that he’s a sitting duck because someone carries out a home invasion while he’s sleeping.” What the facts actually demonstrate, he argued, is that his client “was the target of a racist attack and the mastermind of that attack was killed.”

Given the state of the evidence, Pieters argued public confidence in the courts would be damaged by denying his client bail, not by granting it.

A date for a decision on Roberts bail will be scheduled in mid-November.

 

Full story also in the link below:

https://www.thewhig.com/news/local-news/murder-suspect-seeks-bail-declines-publication-ban

 


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