A deadlocked jury in the murder trial of a Sarnia man accused of killing a man in Chatham has led to a mistrial.
Superior Court Justice Brian Dube declared the mistrial on Thursday evening after eight days of proceedings at the Superior Court in Chatham for Kyle Samko, 28.
Samko pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Manuel (Manny) da Silva, 35, in June of 2021 outside a house on St. George Street near Park Avenue in Chatham. Da Silva suffered one fatal stab wound to the chest that punctured his heart.
A few hours earlier on Thursday, the jury sent a note to the judge saying they were having trouble coming to a unanimous decision. Justice Dube told them it's not mandatory to reach a verdict, but it's desirable before he sent them back to deliberate and try again to reach a verdict.
Justice Dube also told them that he could discharge the jury, but didn't want to do that and urged the jurors to listen to each other carefully.
Earlier in Thursday's court proceedings, the jury asked the judge about self-defence and wanted clarification on proportionality. They wanted to know if a person could use any means necessary in self-defence.
Justice Dube responded that "no conduct is excluded in self-defence." When it came to proportionality, Dube told the jurors that they must weigh different factors, such as the nature and the use of force, the threat of the incident, and a person's role in the incident. He also instructed the jury to assess the response and the proportion between da Silva's force and Samko's force, as well as account for the injury. Dube also asked the jury to consider if there were other means for Samko to defend himself.
"Was it proportionate for Mister Samko to use a knife to stab Mister da Silva once in the chest? You should consider whether the application of the knife to Mister da Silva's chest area as opposed to some other area was intentional. Mister Samko may have defended himself without intending to kill Mister da Silva. The situation was volatile and unfolded very quickly," said Justice Dube.
Justice Dube also reminded the jury that it's the prosecution's responsibility to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Samko acted unreasonably when he stabbed da Silva with a knife.
"Mister Samko doesn't have to prove anything at this trial," said Dube.
Samko did not testify in his defence.
Last week, the defence suggested that Samko was set up to be robbed when da Silva showed up armed with a hammer along with another man and confronted Samko.
Samko is back in jail and his case will now go before assignment court in Chatham on May 29, 2023 to schedule another trial.