Jury to deliberate on fate of Montreal man accused of killing his landlord
MONTREAL -- A Montreal man's fate will be in the hands of a jury in the coming days at the conclusion of his murder trial on Friday.
Michael David Burns is accused of killing his landlord in an apartment building in the West Island because he couldn’t pay his rent and feared eviction.
Constantinos Tountas was shot in the basement of the building he owned on 1st Avenue in Roxboro in May 2018. It didn't take long for police to zero in on one of his tenants, 36-year-old Burns. At first, during his interrogation, Burns can be heard telling investigator Carlo Valente he had nothing to do with the crime.
"I know what murder means, but I didn't do it," the accused can be heard on video saying.
The prosecution argued to the jury that Burns killed Tountas because he owed back rent and couldn't come up with the money, so he set up a trap for the landlord by calling him to the basement, where Tountas was shot. After trying to deny it, Burns finally admitted to investigators he grabbed the weapon and pulled the trigger. He contends it was a terrible accident.
"We fought a bit. I picked it up, it went off. And then I did it again because he kept screaming and I didn't know what to do. And I didn't mean to do it," he told investigator Valente.
Burns tried to get rid of the evidence by burying the shotgun in the backyard of the apartment building, but police soon found it, along with shells and the gloves used to manipulate it. The DNA found matched Burns.
Police also traced his email exchanges and discovered Burns never came up with the rent money. For the Crown, it means he carefully planned his landlord's death, making it a first-degree, premeditated murder.
The defence insists it was an accident and tried to convince the jury that this should be ruled manslaughter, a less serious charge than first-degree murder.
The jury is expected to start deliberating next week.