Princeton man convicted of murders applying for mistrial

Overlooked deliberation options for the jury may lead to a mistrial on the lesser charge of attempted murder.

John Ike Koopmans

John Ike Koopmans

Overlooked deliberation options for the jury may lead to a mistrial on an attempted murder charge that a Princeton man was found guilty of in April.

John Ike Koopmans was found guilty for the second-degree murders of Robert Keith Wharton, 43, and Rosemary Fox, 32, as well as the attempted murder of Bradley Martin that took place in Princeton on March 30, 2013.

Defence counsel for Koopmans, Don Skogstad, said in Supreme Court in Penticton on Monday that he is putting forward an application for a mistrial on the count of attempted murder, due to the fact that the jury was not given options for lesser charges prior to their deliberations.

“We forgot — Me, (Justice Miriam Maisonville) and the Crown that when you have a charge of attempted murder you don’t just give the jury the option of guilty/not guilty,” Skogstad said.

The last few days of the eight-week trial were “strenuous” prior to the jury retiring to discuss their verdict, Skogstad said.

“You’re supposed to say as well that it may not have been attempted murder, it may have been aggravated assault, assault causing bodily harm,” Skogstad said.

“Lesser charges should have been left with the jury on that one, just as manslaughter was left with the jury on the murder charge, that was done, this was overlooked,” Skogstad said.

If the application is upheld, the verdict on the attempted murder charge will be nullified. Whether or not to hold a re-trial is at the discretion of the Crown.

The attempted murder charge would “go back to square one” Skogstad said.

“There would be no verdict on it and it would be an outstanding charge for the Crown to do with what they wished, including re-trial,” Skogstad said.

Crown prosecutor Frank Dubenski and Koopmans’ defence counsel attended the brief Supreme Court hearing via telephone on Monday.

A tentative date for the matter to return to court was set for Sept. 8. Three days are to be scheduled, one for the application for a mistrial and two for the sentencing of Koopmans, who faces two mandatory life sentences regardless. However, those dates may change according to Skogstad.