Nearly a year after the brutal murder of an 18-year-old Moncton teenager sparked a nationwide manhunt, one of the three suspects in the case has been found guilty of first-degree murder by a New Brunswick jury.
At a Moncton court Friday, 19-year-old Devin Morningstar was read a guilty verdict by a jury in the murder trial of Baylee Wylie—a teen whose body was found stabbed, beaten, and left under a box-spring of a burnt out home last December.
According to the CBC, during the verdict the courtroom was "filled with emotion"—both from family and friends of the deceased and accused, and the jury itself, where some members reportedly began to "sob" after reading the guilty verdict.
Morningstar's mother, Tina Morningstar, said that the trial and verdict were particularly hard for her to watch, and that she was hoping for a manslaughter outcome instead of first-degree murder.
"What happened was horrific and anybody would think that," she told the CBC. "The parts where they played Devin's testimony, and seeing him crying and just seeing how upset he was with the whole thing were the hardest parts for me, as being his mother."
Rideau described the case as "difficult" for Morningstar—who was reportedly "emotionless" as the guilty verdict was read—and explained that his choice to not take the stand during the trial was largely due to the fact that he had already damaged his story during interviews with police.
Morningstar, who now faces an automatic sentence of life in prison and no chance of parole for 25 years, is the first of three suspects to be tried in the death of Wylie. The other two suspects, 20-year-old Marissa Shephard and 19-year-old Tyler Noel, will begin their court proceedings in May and October 2017 respectively.
The relationship between the three has been a tense affair since their names were first released last December as prime suspects in the murder of Wylie. Morningstar, who was arrested by police almost immediately following the discovery of Wylie's body, was revealed through his trial to having tried to shift the blame to Noel and Shephard for the murder during police interviews recorded following his arrest.
According to Morningstar, Wylie got into an argument with the three when he told Shephard that he had been sleeping with Morningstar and Noel, which allegedly agitated Morningstar and Noel. This all happened while the four were smoking crack in the basement of a Moncton home. When the dispute reached a fever pitch, Wylie threatened to call the cops.
Morningstar says that because he and Noel were dealing drugs at the time, Noel and Shephard devised a plan to frame Wylie for drug possession by beating him, wrapping him in saran wrap, and calling the police. However, Morningstar says that, upon freeing Wylie from the saran wrap, Noel said that Wylie "can't leave the house." By Morningstar's account, he reluctantly stabbed Wylie to death and helped Shephard and Noel burn the house down.
By January 2016, a nation-wide warrant put out by the RCMP for the arrest of Shephard and Noel had managed to turn up little leads. While Noel was arrested in the early part of the month, Shephard remained on the until March 1, 2016, where she was found hiding in Moncton, despite speculation that she may had fled the province.
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