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Witness's 'manifestly unreliable' testimony leads to acquittal

The witness is related to both the victim and the accused, who who still faces seven other charges
A Sault Ste, Marie Police Service cruiser sits between two Wellington Street East homes in this Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014 file photo. Michael Purvis/SooToday

Michael Bjornaa faces fewer charges after a judge granted a defence motion Friday for a directed verdict and acquitted the Sault Ste. Marie man on three counts.

Superior Court Justice Ian McMillan dismissed an application applying to seven other charges and Bjornaa's trial on these counts will continue Monday.

The remaining charges stem from an Oct. 22, 2014 incident where Jayme Carlson (Bellerose) was shot 12 times at a Wellington Street East residence by another man (Daved Nadon).

McMillan acquitted Bjornaa on counts of break and enter to commit the indictable offence of assault with a weapon, forcible confinement and using a firearm while committing the indictable offence of break and enter.

These counts were related to an incident involving Alex Gingras, that occurred at a nearby Wellington home, just prior to the shooting.

Gingras testified that Bjornaa and two other men entered his home uninvited, looking for Carlson.

One of the men, whom he called Dave, pulled him by the pony tail and put a gun to his head, he said.

The trio left after searching the house.

When he gave his decision Friday, McMillan noted the evidence called by the Crown in support of these three charges relied solely on Gingras's testimony.

He said that after reviewing the man's testimony which he heard earlier this week, he found it to be "manifestly unreliable" and not sufficient evidence to support conviction.

The judge pointed to some of Gingras's evidence that caused concern, including his comment that he had been heavily involved in drugs for the last five years and "there are things I don't remember."

Gingras also told the court he "felt stuck in the middle" because he is related to Bjornaa and Carlson, and "it puts me in a very hard place to sit here."

He was indicating he was having difficulty testifying, McMillan said.

During cross-examination by defence lawyer Don Orazietti, the witness indicated that he didn't recollect any part.

"It's as though Mr. Gingras is contradicting his own evidence while he's giving it," McMillan said.

Bjornaa has pleaded not guilty to the charges involving Carlson, including a count of attempted murder with a firearm.

The other counts are discharging firearm with the intent to maim or wound, unlawfully entering a dwelling with an intent to commit an indictable offence, using a firearm while committing the offence of unlawfully in a dwelling, wounding, administering a noxious substance and possession of a firearm while prohibited.

Carlson testified Bjornaa came to the door of a bedroom where he was staying, and another man wearing a mask began shooting him with an .22 calibre handgun.

At one point, the man's mask came off and he could see that the shooter was Nadon, he said.

Carlson said when he fell to the floor, Bjornaa deployed pepper spray in his direction.

The court heard the incident was the culmination of a series of confrontations that were ignited by an issue over a diamond ring Carlson had pawned with Nadon's mother Berni.

Assistant Crown attorney Dana Peterson has completed her case.

Orazietti will decide Monday if he is going to call a defence.

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