Case against Schweitzer circumstantial, defence says in closing argument
A few facts are not in dispute at the murder and attempted murder trial of Michael Schweitzer.
Both sides agree that Nicole Wagler and Tyler Baker were found in the Milverton home Baker and Schweitzer shared on Dec. 4, 2012.
Both sides agree that Wagler died from a gunshot.
Both sides agree that Baker was shot in the face, and ultimately survived despite receiving serious injuries.
Those are just about the only facts that aren’t open to interpretation, defence lawyer Phillip Millar said Wednesday in his closing submission to the jury.
Prosecutors contend that Schweitzer was behind both shootings.
Crown attorney Michael Murdoch started his final argument by saying “I can’t believe what I’ve done” – the same phrase Schweitzer said repeatedly while handcuffed in a police cruiser, according to testimony from an OPP officer.
He said each uttering of the phrase was tantamount to a confession.
Millar argued that it wasn’t so much a confession as a game of “broken telephone”.
Murdoch also reminded jurors of testimony from Murray Schweitzer, Michael’s father, who said that Michael told him he “(expletive)d up and may have shot two friends.”
“When he says he doesn’t remember anything, that is simply not true,” Murdoch said.
For his part, Millar argued that the Crown did not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, instead relying on circumstantial evidence.
He questioned why Michael Schweitzer was placed in handcuffs less than one minute after police arrived at the house, noting particularly that the first officer at the scene had never before responded to an active shooter situation.
Millar reminded jurors that the handle of the shotgun and the shell casings were never tested for fingerprints, making it impossible to prove who fired the gun or handled the bullets.
“I don’t think the police did a good job of investigating this case,” he said.
Schweitzer’s lawyer also told jurors to bear in mind the testimony of Werner Spitz, an American forensic pathologist who told the court that he believed Baker shot himself.
The two lawyers disagreed further on whether Schweitzer was jealous of Baker, and Baker’s burgeoning relationship with Wagler.
Murdoch said text messages read aloud in court prove those feelings, while Millar said the two were friends and there was no evidence of jealousy.
Jurors will receive their final instructions from Justice Thomas Heeney and begin their deliberations on Thursday.