Two men charged with manslaughter in a downtown Kelowna killing on Canada Day in 2018 are back on trial after a three-month delay.
Noah Vaten and Nathan Truant are accused of being part of a group that chased and beat Esa Carriere near the Queensway Transit Exchange on July 1, 2018, with the Crown alleging Vaten dealt the fatal stab to Carriere’s heart.
The two had been on trial through February and March this year, when Crown prosecutor Martin Nadon was appointed a Provincial Court judge, delaying the trial as a new prosecutor took the case. The trial resumed on Monday, July 26 and is scheduled through the rest of this week with the possibility of running even longer.
Though the trial is resuming, proceedings remain in voir dire — essentially a trial within a trial to test evidence — to determine the admissibility of statements Vaten made to police shortly after his arrest in January 2019. Much of the evidence presented in the voir dire is covered under a publication ban.
However, those statements were discussed in the days leading up to the adjournment in March.
After his arrest in Winnipegosis, Man. on Jan. 26, 2019, Vaten told police his memories of the events of the previous Canada Day were spotty due to the drugs and alcohol he used that night. He claimed he blacked out at 8 p.m., hours before Carriere was attacked just before 11 p.m. The next thing he told the interrogator he remembered with certainty was his arrest early the next morning — not for the alleged stabbing but for causing a disturbance in front of the Rutland Community Policing Office.
Vaten spent the night in a holding cell. His cellmate from that night testified earlier in the trial that Vaten confessed to the killing and even reenacted it. Vaten’s friend, Colby McKee-Lanchick, also testified Vaten admitted to the killing the morning after it happened.
The conversation between Vaten and the interrogator remained cordial until he informed Vaten his story didn’t line up with accounts given to police by the people he was with that night.
“People have told us, straight up, that you’re involved in this,” the officer said following the lengthy questioning.
Vaten retorted: “If I told people I went around and did it, that’d be r*****ed, wouldn’t it?”
As the interrogation continued, Vaten eventually admitted to the killing to officers — the main point of contention in the voir dire.
Vaten’s lawyers maintain that the interrogation should not be admissible evidence. They claim it was a violation of Vaten’s Charter rights, specifically concerning his right to having a lawyer present during the discussions with police — something he denied several times during the interrogation.
Vaten and Truant were charged on Jan. 26, 2019, meaning the verdict will come more than two and a half years after their charges. In 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada rendered a precedent-setting decision in R. v. Jordan, which found cases in superior courts in Canada must be heard within 30 months, barring extenuating circumstances.
Two others were also charged with manslaughter in Carriere’s death. One was sentenced to a 15-month rehabilitative program in January, while the other is still awaiting trial.