A B.C. Supreme Court justice has found Albert Giesbrecht guilty of the May 18, 2017 second-degree murder of Raymond Bishop.
Justice David Crossin delivered his verdict at the courthouse in Smithers on May 24.
During the six-week trial, which took place over three sessions between January and March, the Crown painted a picture of an abusive man consumed by bitterness and jealousy over his divorce from his ex-wife Susan Giesbrecht.
On the morning of May 18, 2017, the prosecution said, Giesbrecht took the ferry from Burns Lake to Southside with the intent of criminally harassing Susan and/or Bishop. According to the Crown’s theory, in pursuit of that “unlawful object” a confrontation between the two men ensued and Giesbrecht shot Bishop with a 30-30 rifle.
The defence did not dispute that Bishop died by Giesbrecht’s hand, but presented an alternate theory that the firearm discharged accidentally when Bishop attacked Giesbrecht. Terry La Liberte, Giesbrecht’s attorney, said that was only one possible scenario that was just as plausible a theory and as such the Crown’s evidence did not rise to the level of beyond a reasonable doubt required to prove murder.
In the end, Crossin said he did not accept the Crown had proved beyond a reasonable doubt that it was in pursuit of the unlawful object of criminal harassment that Giesbrecht killed Bishop.
However, the judge concluded that, on the whole of the evidence, the Crown had met its burden.
“In my view the Crown has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused intentionally shot Mr. Bishop, has proven his motive for doing so,” Crossin said. “I’ve concluded that on all the circumstances, the only rational conclusion is the accused so discharged his weapon intending to cause [Bishop] bodily harm that he knew was likely to cause death and he was reckless whether death ensued or not. The is no other rational conclusion available on the whole of the evidence that has been placed before me.”
The mandatory sentence for second-degree murder is life in prison. The judge adjourned the case to May 31 to fix a date to determine parole eligibility.