A new trial has been ordered for a man who killed his girlfriend in front of their infant son, and later successfully argued that she provoked him.
Haiden Suarez-Noa stabbed Tania Cowell 11 times in front of their son Bailun, then just five months old, in 2013.
“We are so relieved that the courts have issued a new trial,” the victim’s sister-in-law Julie Cowell told CityNews in an email on Friday. She adopted Bailun after he sister-in-law’s murder.
“We have a renewed hope in our system and only pray the second trial gives Tania justice. We are overcome with emotions right now.”
In 2016, Suarez-Noa was charged with second-degree murder but successfully argued – using the little-used and controversial Law of Provocation – that Cowell provoked the fatal attack by threatening to leave him and prevent him from seeing their young son.
He was sentenced to 11 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter.
The Law of Provocation exists in Canada, the UK, and some parts of Australia. It only applies as a defense to murder, dropping the charge from murder to manslaughter.
The Crown appealed the acquittal. On Friday, a three-judge panel ruled Suarez-Noa would be retried on the charge of second-degree murder.
The appeal was granted based on the ruling by the panel that the defense’s psychiatric expert was unqualified. It had nothing to do with the Law of Provocation.
“I would not allow the Crown to argue that the defence of provocation should not have been left with the jury at trial. I would dismiss this ground of appeal on that basis,” the panel wrote.