On March 26, 2010, the jury in the Jordan Manners murder trial announced that they were unable to reach a verdict, prompting Justice Ian Nordheimer to declare a mistrial. The two accused will now have to be retried. Manners’ shocking murder at his Toronto high school caused great consternation and an official review of high school security procedures. The resulting trial was bound to be a high profile one. What made it especially noteworthy was the recantation by two students who had given statements to the police indicating that they had witnessed the murder. At trial, the two girls recanted their evidence, stating they had merely been repeating “rumours.” The Crown Attorney argued to the jury that the girls had a change of heart out of fear.
From their failure to agree on a verdict, it can be inferred that the jury was troubled by the evidence. So was the judge. At the conclusion of the evidence, while the jury was deliberating, Justice Nordheimer called upon the Attorney General to conduct a “full review” of the matter, presumably with a view to a possible prosecution for perjury. Given that a new trial will have to go forward with the evidence of the two girls, the Attorney General is in a difficult position. He would undoubtedly want to pay careful attention to the recommendation of a respected jurist, but the continued prosecution would not be helped by an outstanding indictment for perjury of important Crown witnesses. We have clearly not heard the last of this matter.