Murder or murder? Bhogal’s fate is now on the jury

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Eight weeks after being selected to sit as a jury of their peers, 12 local citizens were sequenced on Monday afternoon to begin deliberations to determine the guilt or innocence of Jitesh Bhogal, at which point In 2018 Autumn’s murder was charged with sexual assault and first-degree murder. Taggart in his house.

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In closing arguments ahead of Superior Court Justice Renee Pomerens’ final instructions to the jury, defense attorney Peter Thorning urged jurors to find his client innocent of the murder charge. “Mr. Bhogal is guilty of murder, neither more nor less.”

Thorning said evidence presented during the trial proved his client was either “extremely intoxicated” or in a state of cocaine-induced psychosis when he “shortened the wall” outside Taggart’s West Windsor apartment building. Entered her unit, and then faced her living bedroom. He said that Bhogal had confused her with a drug addict who blew her up in the parking lot outside.

“He was completely wrong,” Thorning said of his client. When Taggart screamed, he shut his mouth. Her death was “accidental”, Bhogal himself testified earlier during the trial.

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“Don’t believe Mr. Bhogal’s evidence,” Assistant Crown Attorney Kim Bertholet said during the prosecution’s closing argument. The testimony of the only other person in the bedroom at the time, Berthollet said, was “inherently contradictory,” self-serving “and ultimately unreliable.”

Contrary to Bhogal’s explanation, Berthollet said the engineer was “resolute, angry” and acted with purpose and intent in the early hours of June 10, 2018: “He knew exactly what he was doing.”

Taggart, 31, whose younger son testified to be in an adjoining bedroom and heard his mother scream, was a complete stranger to the accused. Bhogal, 27, at the time claimed that he had no recollection of what he was doing in her bedroom that night or how he got there or left.

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Both Crown and Defense have theories that he thought he had broken into the apartment of a drug dealer who robbed him of a quantity of cocaine. The defense story is that Bhogle accidentally killed Taggart trying to stop his screams, while Crown argues that he killed Taggart to “conceal his crime” and prevent him from going to the police.

In his two-hour directive to the jury, the Pomerans stated that the trial had established that Bhogal had committed an unlawful act by attacking Taggart and had caused the woman’s death.

What remained was to determine whether Bhogal had an intent to kill—either intended to cause his death or to cause bodily harm that he knew was likely to cause his death. It would be second degree murder. The jury also has to determine whether the Crown has proved beyond a reasonable doubt the prosecutor’s argument that Bhogal also committed sexual assault, making it first-degree murder.

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“Use your good common sense,” the judge instructed the jury, which must reach a unanimous decision. At the very least, Bhogal is facing the sentence of murder, but being found guilty of murder means an automatic life sentence.

The jury, which heard dozens of witnesses and introduced hundreds of demonstrations, began their secret discussions at 5 p.m. Monday.

The defense argued that the encounter was “completely random” and occurred after the consumption of “large amounts of cocaine”. Bhogal told Thorning, “Place your hand on Taggart’s mouth and nose until he stops screaming.” Then he did CPR in an attempt to revive him.

Crown cited the testimony of a pathologist that it would have taken Taggart about 30 seconds to lose consciousness and three to five minutes to die of respiratory failure. Berthollet argued that Bhogle’s testimony was “a series of volunteer explanations and convenient gaps in memory.”

dschmidt@postmedia.com

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