Closing arguments underway at second-degree murder trial of Hamilton-area homeowner

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HAMILTON — A Hamilton-area homeowner acted in accordance with his training as a military reservist when he shot and killed a man who had broken into his truck, his lawyer said Monday in closing arguments at the second-degree murder trial.

Peter Khill, 28, admits he killed Jon Styres with two shotgun blasts in the early morning of Feb. 4, 2016, but has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge, saying he fired in self-defence, believing Styres was pointing a gun at him.

The jury has heard that Khill spent four years as an army reservist, and defence lawyer Jeffrey Manishen spoke at length during his closing address about the ways in which military training would have guided Khill’s actions.

“Soldiers react proactively, that’s how they are trained,” Manishen said, comparing Khill’s actions to those of vacationing U.S. soldiers who subdued a gunman on a train in France in 2015.

“Mr. Khill said that’s why he acted the way he acted. To take control of the situation.”

Khill did not leave his house with his shotgun with the intention of shooting or killing anyone, but rather, mean to detain the man who had broken into his truck until police could arrive, the lawyer added.

It was only when he saw Styres raise his arms that Khill fired, believing that the other man was about to shoot him, Manishen said. The fact that Styres did not, in fact, have a gun does not make a difference, he argued.

“The law provides that somebody may actually be mistaken of whether there was or was not a real threat, providing the person honestly believed he was being threatened and there was reasonable grounds for that belief,” Manishen said.

The case has garnered attention for similarities to a recent Saskatchewan case, in which white homeowner Gerald Stanley was acquitted of murdering Indigenous man Colten Boushie.

Manishen told the jury that race plays no part in the case, as Khill could not possibly have known 29-year-old Styres was Indigenous given how dark it was at the time of the shooting and how quickly events unfolded.

“He is no trigger-happy, callous, impulsive, rash individual who doesn’t care about somebody he’s had to confront,” Manishen said. “(Khill) lived to defend his country and wanted to continue to live to defend his own life. And that young man should be found not guilty.”

Peter Goffin , The Canadian Press