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Judge rejects homo panic defence

Gay man stabbed 73 times near Lytton, BC

A Kamloops, BC, judge has rejected a homo panic defence and convicted a man in his 20s of second degree murder for stabbing a man 73 times.

BC Supreme Court Justice Richard Blair ruled Cory Peter Bird made up stories about attacking Albert James Michell,40, in self-defence “as he sought to prevent his friends and family from learning of his bisexuality.”

Bird killed Michell on the Siska Indian Band Reserve south of Lytton, BC, on Aug 13, 2008.

The judge ruled that Bird “was operating with foresight of the deadly consequences of his actions, stating at one point that he went ‘in for like … the kill, I guess.'”

Bird told the court he awoke on the night of the murder to find Michell sitting naked and watching porn. Bird said Michell approached him in an aggressive fashion, waving a knife, and told him to remove his shorts. Michell then gave him a blowjob.

Given Bird’s previous sexual experiences with men, the judge didn’t buy his argument that he snapped when Michell went down on him.

“I conclude that he [Bird] would not find Mr Michell’s sexual contact to constitute either insults or wrongful acts,” Blair ruled.

Bird confessed to the killing when he was arrested in Montreal and said he had watched Michell die. When questioned by police about whether he was upset by the sexual advances, Bird said other men had gone down on him before and he had just pushed them away without a problem.

“He also acknowledged having had a homosexual boyfriend at one time, although he described himself not as a homosexual but as a bisexual individual,” Blair wrote.

Initially, he said Michell had come at him with a knife but later admitted that was a lie.

“I know that if it was self-defence I’d get a shorter sentence,” he told police.

“I… I don’t know why I snapped. I may have snapped,” he told police. “I don’t remember why I did it. Not ’cause he’s a homosexual. It isn’t ’cause he was Native. It wasn’t for any sort of prejudice that I had against him.”

“I remember having the… I remember trying to knock him out. I remember having the one knife and the… I cou… couldn’t break his skin with it and I cut myself. That’s where I think… I think that’s where I probably cut myself. Um, I remember walking to the kitchen, grabbing that knife, walking back in, stabbing him twice. I remember him screaming. I mean… and that… that’s when I realized that I’d, you know, he was actually a friend,” he told police.

“I don’t remember stabbing him 70 times. I don’t remember going to town on him, like he was a cow in a fuckin’ butcher shop.”

Later he added, “the only reason why I made up the story in the first place was so that none of my family or friends would ever find out that I’m bisexual.”

Michell’s body, covered by a sheet, was discovered in a state of advanced decomposition after his brother noticed he had missed work for several days.

At trial, witnesses testified that Bird had been staying with Michell and that the pair had been drinking and smoking pot the night of the death.

Neighbour Colin Gilker testified that the pair were not overly intoxicated.

The court also heard from Michell’s cousin, Albert Wayne Michell, that he had picked up a hitchhiker near the reserve the next morning.

“He said the hitchhiker had a cut on his hand that the driver suggested needed stitches.

“The male told him he had cut himself the night before when he was doing some cutting, that he was drunk at the time. He did not say what he was cutting or what he had cut himself with,” Blair said.

The court later heard that Bird’s DNA may have contributed to the mixture of DNA found on two knives used in Michell’s killing.

Wayne Michell said the man, who he picked from a police photo lineup and hesitatingly identified in court, did not appear to be hung over.

On Aug 20, Bird drank 160 ounces of beer in a Montreal restaurant and fled without paying. The police were called and Bird was located in a post office where he barricaded himself in a room, saying he had a gun and would shoot if approached.

Bird was subdued and arrested. He told officers he had killed a man in BC with a knife as part of a gang initiation.

“‘I killed a man in BC. I do not want to go to prison. Why didn’t you shoot me?'” Blair noted Bird told police.

After contacting the Kelowna RCMP, the Montreal police charged Bird with the murder.

On Aug 21, 2008, Bird told police “he had killed a man out of self-defence, that the man said he was a child molester, and that he snapped and killed him with a knife.”

Sentencing submissions have yet to be heard.