4 min

Boone found guilty of attempted murder in HIV trial

'There was no way I was trying to kill anyone'

UPDATE: Wed, Oct 31

The accused in a controversial HIV trial has been found guilty of the attempted murder of three men, three counts of aggravated sexual assault and three counts of administering a noxious substance (ie, his semen).

Steven Boone, 31, broke down in tears when the verdict was announced, telling his lawyer, Ian Carter, “There was no way I was trying to kill anyone.”

The jury found Boone not guilty on two additional counts of aggravated sexual assault, as they could not find a “realistic possibility” that HIV might have been transmitted during oral sex with two men.

Boone’s mother was seen in tears outside the Ottawa courtroom. 

Justice Bonnie Warkentin said sentencing will be set after Nov 13, as Boone is set to stand trial on separate charges of attempted murder, attempted aggravated sexual assault, breach of probation and sexual assault on a developmentally delayed man in his 20s who functions at the level of a 13-year-old.

Boone will stand trial with another HIV-positive man in Waterloo in December on charges of aggravated sexual assault.

Boone was first arrested on May 6, 2010. At the time the Ottawa police liaison committee was criticized because it released his photo in an email and labelled him a “sexual predator.” Because he had not yet been convicted of any crime, Xtra had previously declined to publish Boone’s name. 
Controversial HIV trial enters final stages

Jurors in an Ottawa courtroom heard closing arguments Oct 29 in the trial of a 31-year-old Ontario man accused of purposely infecting five men with HIV.

While defence lawyer Ian Carter told the jury his client should be found guilty of two counts of aggravated sexual assault because there is a realistic possibility he did transmit HIV to two sexual partners, he asked that they acquit him on several other counts. 
Xtra has so far declined to publish the name of the accused following his arrest on May 6, 2010. At the time the Ottawa police liaison committee was criticized because it released his photo in an email and labelled him a “sexual predator.”
The defendant is accused of attempting to kill three men he had sex with between January and April 2010 and of administering or attempting to administer a noxious substance: his semen. He is also charged with aggravated sexual assault on two of the men and two others and one count of attempted aggravated sexual assault.

Carter said there are three issues the jury must consider: the intent to infect, intent to kill and the realistic possibility of HIV infection.

He says one of his client’s sexual partners was already HIV-positive when he had sex with his client, adding he “came to police with a complete pack of lies.”

One 17-year-old male tested positive after a sexual encounter with the accused, although it cannot be known if the accused infected the boy.

Carter argues that the accused was not looking to infect men with the virus but was looking for love. But both Carter and the Crown prosecutor, Meaghan Cunningham, referenced transcripts from internet chats in which the accused wrote that he wanted to infect men.
One excerpt referred to “turning a boy poz and making him mine for life,” while another states, “I turned him poz, he begged me for it.”
Carter suggested the transcripts are evidence of a rich fantasy life and the chats were simply “charged-up sexual talk.”
“There is no question that there is talk of infection for arousal purposes, strange as it may seem,” he said.
He pointed to testimony from one witness, the man who was already HIV-positive, and noted he and the accused discussed several sexual acts online that never left the realm of fantasy.
Carter said the witness and the accused discussed felching, facials and “coming on [the accused’s] penis then having [the accused] fuck him” in online chats, yet none of these acts took place once the two hooked up.
He urged the jury to find the defendant not guilty on all other charges except the two counts of aggravated sexual assault. He said there is no evidence to support the claim his client intended to kill.
But Cunningham disagreed, arguing that the online conversations were not mere fantasy. She said the accused “was using sex, deceit and his own toxicity to infect men . . . He didn’t just talk about infecting people. He actually went out and tried to do it.”
She argued that the jury should find the accused guilty on all counts, including attempted murder. She said that although medical advances have helped lengthen the lives of HIV-positive people, the virus still shortens a life by 12 years on average and, if left untreated, can kill within 12 to 15 years.
The accused knew he was HIV-positive as early as 2009, Cunningham argued, and he wanted to transmit his infection to others. She said the accused pretended to wear a condom or poked holes in condoms to trick “little condom nazi boys” – as the accused wrote in one online chat presented as evidence.
“He had a sophisticated understanding of HIV,” she said. “[The accused] is smart. He was patient and determined.”
Cunningham also attempted to discredit earlier testimony by Mark Tyndall, head of the infectious diseases department at the University of Ottawa, questioning the studies presented and noting that Tyndall “didn’t seem prepared to give testimony in this case.”
Tyndall, who was the only witness to testify in defence of the accused, likened the probability of becoming infected with HIV to being hit in the head with a piano.

Tyndall’s area of expertise is not sexually transmitted HIV, Cunningham said, but rather HIV in drug users. “Consider his agenda,” Cunningham told the jury. “He got to say what he wanted to say about the law in Canada.” 

She argued that although Tyndall said that if an HIV-positive person is taking antiretroviral medication the possibility of transmitting the virus is almost zero, it is still not zero.
“We all know the chance of being struck by lightning is very small,” she said. “However, we all get out of the swimming pool and pull our kids off the soccer field when it starts, even though the risk is very, very small. We act because the potential consequence is so severe.”
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled Oct 5 that the test in criminal cases of nondisclosure will now be “realistic possibility of transmission of HIV,”  a clarification of the more vague “significant risk” test.
In the decision, which many AIDS activists and researchers called a huge setback, the court ruled that the accused should be acquitted only where both a condom was used and viral load is low.
The jury began deliberations Oct 30.