A man charged in connection with the death at a 6th Street house in Courtenay in 2017 was acquitted in Supreme Court Tuesday.
During the early morning hours of June 30, 2017, Comox Valley RCMP were called to a residence at the 500 block on 6th Street and located 25-year-old Troy Matthew Emmons deceased as a result of foul play.
Jonathan Billy was located and arrested a short time later, several blocks from the scene.
Billy was originally charged with second-degree murder in July 2017, but the charges were downgraded to manslaughter at a June 5, 2019, court appearance.
Justice David Masuhara found Billy not guilty in Nanaimo Supreme Court on Aug. 20, following a trial that started in Courtenay in June but was moved to Nanaimo because of scheduling issues around a witness delay.
Following the decision, Jim Heller, Billy’s lawyer, described his client, now 39, as a man with a difficult past, who had reformed but still had some social contact with people involved with drugs.
“Now he’s got a family, he’s got a job, he’s got a couple kids, but he’s still friends with one guy in particular that lives in that house,” Heller told the Comox Valley Record.
Billy was at the 6th Street house the night of June 30, 2017, visiting the friend when police arrived, looking for information in connection with a missing girl. Heller notes he called witnesses to establish the character of the victim (Emmons) who was stabbed. This included one witness the victim had attacked with a knife, and who relayed the incident to police a couple of weeks prior to the altercation between Billy and Emmons.
Ultimately, the decision came down to mitigating factors, as Justice Masuhara accepted the argument of self-defence to explain the altercation between Billy and the victim.
“It was quite a case,” Heller said.
The Record contacted Crown counsel John Boccabella the day after the judgment, but he was not available for comment.