Murder acquittal rocks Nova Scotia community

December 5, 2009

By CBC News, cbc.ca, Updated: December 5, 2009 4:44 PM

RCMP have stepped up their presence in the Cape Breton community of Chapel Island after an outbreak of violence Friday following an acquittal in a murder trial.

Logan Curtis Paul, 21, was found not guilty on Friday of second-degree murder in the 2008 stabbing death of Edwin Morales Marshall, 35.

Immediately following the jury’s verdict, supporters of Marshall’s family started yelling threats in the Port Hawkesbury, N.S., courtroom, saying justice had not been served and that they would seek revenge.

On Friday night, shots were fired and windows were smashed in Chapel Island, said Kenny Basque, chief of the First Nation community.

People are living in fear following the explosive verdict and until tensions ease, as many as 10 families have left for hotels in Sydney, about an hour away, including his wife and daughter, he said.

“There’s people talking of houses being burnt down and threats that other people are gonna be beat up or murdered,” Basque said.

Quiet night

RCMP said the night was relatively peaceful and they weren’t aware of any shots being fired.

“It was a good night — no events to report,” said Cpl J.P. Boucher. “It went well. The families settled down into their respective areas and they did very well. They looked after themselves after that decision.”

But Boucher said the RCMP were keeping a close eye on the small community, which has been divided by the trial.

Ten extra RCMP officers have been stationed in the area for the weekend and have spoken to both families, he said. “They’ve reacted very well to us being here, and even showed appreciation of us being here — both families.”

The officers are prepared to stay as long as they’re needed to help keep the peace, Boucher said.

Basque said that it will be up to a few members of both families to prevent the situation from igniting in the community of about 600 people where everyone is related.

Fatal confrontation

Marshall died in September 2008 after he was stabbed in Chapel Island during a confrontation with Paul outside his girlfriend’s home.

During the trial, Paul argued that it was self-defence because Marshall attacked him first. The Crown argued that Paul used unreasonable force in grabbing a knife because Marshall didn’t have a weapon.

The jury found Paul had acted in self-defence, triggering an uproar in the courtroom.

A line of RCMP officers and sheriffs had to separate the two families and forcibly remove the loudest from the court.

Lillian Marshall, the victim’s mother, told police that while they may be able to protect Paul and his family in court, they could not protect them in Chapel Island.

“‘One of them is going down,” she yelled. “I don’t care which one of my kids do it — my cousin, my brothers, my sisters. One of them is dying today.”

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