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Saturday, December 7, 2019

Guilty Verdict in Wiarton Murder Trial

Wiarton/Owen Sound | by Matt Hermiz  

12-person jury finds Ralph Rudowski guilty of second degree murder in death of Janice West.

A jury has found Ralph Rudowski guilty of second degree murder in the death of Janice West.

The 62-year-old Rudowski stood in the prisoner's box and showed little visible reaction when the verdict was read by the jury foreperson Friday afternoon in an Ontario Superior Court of Justice court in Owen Sound.

It took less than six hours for the jury to reach the guilty verdict.

West, 61 at the time of her death, was found dead in her Division Street residence in Wiarton on March 7, 2018.

Rudowski was a neighbour of West and with her the day before her body was discovered. He was charged with second-degree murder in her death days later.

Rudowski had pleaded not guilty to second degree murder. He admitted at the start of the trial on Monday for being responsible for West's death and her injuries but maintained he didn't mean to kill her. He was willing to plead guilty to manslaughter. 

During the trial, a forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Shkrum gave evidence West had died by strangulation and was found with multiple blunt force injuries – caused by up to 10 separate blows.

Justice John R. Sproat read a summary of the Crown and defence positions to the jury Friday morning prior to when they retired for deliberations at 10:26 a.m.

The Crown's position was this number of blows took some time to inflict on West, and it was not an impulse. The defence submitted the Crown had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt his intent required for murder.

The jury returned the guilty verdict just after 4 p.m. Friday.

Following the jury conviction, Justice Sproat acknowledged the offence of second-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment.

Rudowski's sentencing hearing was adjourned to March 23, 2020, when the minimum period prior to parole eligibility will be determined. Under the law, it must be set between 10 and 25 years.

A presentence report will be prepared for the hearing. The Crown indicated Ontario Provincial Police will conduct a threat assessment of Rudowski to be considered as well.

Justice Sproat asked the jurors to submit recommendations for the amount of time, between 10 and 25 years, before Rudowski should be eligible for parole.

Four jurors elected to make no recommendation, six said 15 years and two chose the maximum period of 25 years.

Grey County Crown attorney Peter Leger was the prosecutor on the case. Rudowski's defence counsel was lawyer Jill Gamble.

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