A Toronto jury has found three men guilty of first-degree murder in the 2016 shooting death of 17-year-old Jarryl Hagley at a Weston Rd. Pizza Pizza.
Mohamed Ali-Nur and the twin brothers Lenneil and Shakiyl Shaw were convicted Thursday morning after a two-month trial.
The trio will be sentenced June 4. First-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years
The Crown alleged Lenneil Shaw and Ali-Nur opened fire on Hagley inside the Pizza Pizza in the early hours of Oct. 16, 2016, while Shakiyl Shaw drove the getaway car.
As prosecutors said, the jurors’ task came down to whether or not they believed key Crown witness Winston Poyser, who testified he was with the three leading up to and after the shooting.
Poyser testified he did not know the shooting was going to take place.
The 26-year-old was far from a perfect witness. He had a hard time remembering many details of the night in question, when he was high and drunk. And when confronted with inconsistencies from past statements, Poyser seemed to
Prosecutors suggested his forgetfulness did not bear on his ability to remember who he was with for many hours, nor was it the same as being an outright liar — as was suggested by the defence.
The jury retired Tuesday just before the dinner hour. Within an hour, they were back in court with a question: why did the Crown not call more witnesses to corroborate its case? Superior Court Justice Robert Clark to jurors not to speculate on evidence that wasn’t called.
The police investigation led to the discovery of a licence plate on the black SUV that was used as the getaway car and traced to Poyser’s mother. He was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and agreed to give a statement to police implicating the Shaw twins — two long-time friends — and Ali-Nur, whom he met that evening.
Poyser, 26, pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to murder and was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment. The prosecution said “he got the sentence that he deserved for what he did,” and that he got no favours from them or police.
The defence lawyers said he lied to get a sweet deal.
Tice said while Poyser was not “a perfect witness,” his memory “not … entirely reliable on specific details,” he “did the right thing here by testifying as to what happened that night.
“He spent more than a week in court fearing that he could get shot for it. I suggest that’s a pretty courageous thing to do.”
Rather than showing courage, the defence lawyers suggested he is lying because he did not get witness protection and is covering for the real killers.
During his closing address, defence lawyer Dirk Derstine, who represented Shakiyl Shaw, told the jury they could not believe anything said by Poyser “a snake who violated The Palace of Justice.”
Poyser realized after the murder “he had to deliver others to save himself,” Derstine said.
Defence lawyer Boris Bytensky, in his final argument, reminded jurors that Poyser’s lawyer initially told police his client would point the finger at perpetrators known to carry guns in the past. During the trial, Poyser testified he did not know the twins to be involved with firearms.
Margaret Bojanowska, Ali-Nur’s defence lawyer, questioned Poyser’s ability to identify her client, given his level of impairment.
But Tice said it made no sense for Poyser to falsely pick out his friends when there was no history of ill-will or bad-blood between them. He also pointed to video surveillance, phone records, and other evidence that he said confirmed or corroborated Poyser’s testimony.
Betsy Powell is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and courts. Follow her on Twitter: @powellbetsy