New trial ordered for Cranbrook man convicted of murder

Trial judge misdirected jurors before their verdict, rules BC Court of Appeal

  • May. 29, 2013 8:00 p.m.

Kim Bolan/Vancouver Sun

The BC Court of Appeal has ordered a new trial for a Cranbrook man convicted of second degree murder in 2009, saying the trial judge misdirected jurors before their verdict.

Cheyenne Manuel Learn, 53, was convicted in the fatal shooting of Tammy Ellis, a friend of his former girlfriend, at Ellis’s home in December, 2007.

Learn claimed he was drunk and accidentally shot Ellis at short range with a sawed-off shotgun when he went to her house to confront his ex, Brandy Lahay, over her drug trafficking.

But Lahay and another witness testified that “Learn pointed the gun at the victim, spoke to her and fired the gun” after accusing her of getting Lahay “hooked on crack.”

One of Learn’s grounds of appeal was that the trial judge made a mistake when he gave the jury instructions on the necessary intent required to convict someone of murder.

Appeal Court Justice Ian Donald agreed in a written ruling that an error was made and that a retrial was necessary.

“I am persuaded that the judge misdirected the jury and I would order a new trial on second degree murder,” he said in a ruling released Wednesday.

Appeal Court Justices Harvey Groberman and Christopher Hinkson, who were also on the panel, agreed.

Learn had been sentenced to life in prison with no hope of parole for 16 years. At sentencing, the judge cited his lengthy criminal record, which included several violence-related offences involving firearms.

No date has been set yet for Learn’s new trial.