A Saskatoon jury has found 29-year-old Michael Robertson guilty of manslaughter in the death of Rocky Genereaux.
The decision means the jury found Robertson not guilty of second-degree murder, the charge sought by the Crown throughout the trial.
The verdict was reached 12 hours after closing arguments and final instructions were heard at Saskatoon’s Court of Queen Bench Wednesday.
“It’s not the verdict I was expecting, however, I believe that the proper procedures and rules of evidence were followed,” Crown prosecutor Jennifer Claxton-Viczko said outside the courthouse.
Jurors were given the verdict options of second-degree murder, manslaughter or an acquittal based on the claim of self-defence.
Generaux’s family let out a gasp when they heard the decision and were visibly angry as they left the courtroom.
“They were obviously disappointed that it wasn’t a finding of second-degree murder because they believe that that was what should have been found,” Claxton-Viczko said.
Rocky Genereaux was stabbed to death in March 2015 by Robertson, who claimed in court he committed the killing in self-defence.
He told the court he went to Genereaux’s Avenue I South home to confront him over a phone SIM card – he’d left his phone at the victim’s place some days earlier, and he believed Genereaux swapped out the card.
Robertson claimed Genereaux told him he had HIV and then pulled out a needle, prompting Robertson to pull out a large knife he had inside his jacket.
Robertson said he stabbed Genereaux as the older man came at him with the needle.
In his closing remarks, defence lawyer Brian Little reminded the jury that, although they heard testimony from others in the house at the time, no one saw what actually happened during a loud altercation between Robertson and Genereaux.
In her closing address to the jury, Crown prosecutor Claxton-Viczko emphasized that, at the time of the stabbing, Robertson’s cellphone was vital to his ability to support himself by selling drugs while he was on the run from Calgary.
Claxton-Viczko also pointed out that Robertson could easily have backed out the door of Genereaux’s door and away from him if he was threatened.
She noted that Robertson’s knife was almost two feet long, and said it made no sense for Genereaux to advance on him with nothing but a syringe.
Sentencing arguments will take place in September.