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Kachkar trial: possible outcomes

Richard Kachkar appears in court. January 21, 2010.

Both the Crown and the defence agree Richard Kachkar killed Toronto police Sgt. Ryan Russell with a stolen snowplow on Jan. 12, 2011.

But the trial hinges on the notion of whether he is responsible for Russell’s death.

The Crown argues Kachkar knew what he was doing, and so he should be found guilty of first-degree murder, while the defense argues he should be found not criminally responsible.

First-degree murder
A first-degree murder conviction carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.

Kachkar could be found guilty of first-degree murder if the jury decides he meant to kill Russell or he was attempting to evade arrest by driving toward Russell.

Second-degree murder
Kachkar could be found guilty of second-degree murder if the jury decides he did not know Russell was an on-duty police officer, but still meant to kill him.

Second-degree murder also carries an automatic life sentence, but those convicted may be eligible for parole in anywhere from 10-25 years.

Manslaughter
Kachkar could be found guilty of manslaughter if the jury finds he did not intend to kill Russell but is still criminally responsible for his death.

There is no minimum sentence for manslaughter.

Not criminally responsible
If Kachkar is found not criminally responsible, he would not immediately return to the community, Justice Ian MacDonnell told jurors on Wednesday.

He would be sent to a mental health facility for an indeterminate period of time and released only when a review board finds he is no longer a significant threat to public safety.

What could change
The federal government is considering changes to the Criminal Code that would affect those found not criminally responsible.

Under the new legislation, those convicted could be given a “high-risk” designation. It would be more difficult for offenders to obtain day passes from mental health facilities, and would allow more influence from victims – or the families of victims – during review hearings.

Review boards could also wait longer – three years, up from one – to reconsider discharge applications.

Bill C-54, the Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act, had its second reading in February.

With files from The Canadian Press