As we have previously blogged, Adam Strong (“Strong”) pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of two teenagers from Oshawa and opted for a judge-alone trial. Strong’s murder trial began on September 28, 2020 and was completed before the end of 2020. Superior Court Justice Joseph Di Luca delivered his judgment earlier this week and found Strong guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Rori Hache (“Hache”) and guilty of the reduced charge of manslaughter in the death of Kandis Fitzpatrick (“Fitzpatrick”). THE CRIMES Strong was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in November 2018 after remains of Hache, a pregnant 18-year-old, were found in his home. Police were called to Strong’s basement apartment after plumbers found a “flesh-like” substance clogging the pipes. Hache was reported missing in August 2017 and her torso was found by a fisherman floating in the Oshawa Harbour several weeks later. A second DNA profile was found when investigators searched Strong’s home on a knife in the kitchen, the wall and ceiling of his bedroom, a bondage device, a pet leash, as well as in his freezer where Hache’s dismembered remains were also discovered. It was verified that this DNA belonged to 19-year-old Fitzpatrick. She was last seen in 2008, but her body was never found. Strong underwent an 11-hour interview on November 8, 2018 conducted by Durham Regional Police Service Detective Paul Mitton. During this interview, Strong admitted to dismembering Hache. He appeared preoccupied with how Hache’s torso looked after it was found in Lake Ontario. He also admitted that both teens had been in his apartment. At Strong’s trial, the Crown prosecutor alleged that Strong had killed the young women during sexual encounters in his basement apartment. He then dismembered their bodies in an attempt to conceal his crimes. Justice Di Luca found that Strong killed Hache by repeatedly hitting her in the head with a hammer or similar type of object as she was tied up. The judge found that this murder, which was committed in September 2017, constituted first degree murder as it occurred during the course of a sexual assault. Justice Di Luca also found that Strong killed Fitzpatrick in 2008. However, the judge stated that there was insufficient evidence for a murder conviction, which required proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Strong intended to kill her or cause harm that was likely to kill her. Justice Di Luca stated in his reasons for judgement:
While Miss Hache and Miss Fitzpatrick were similarly situated in terms of their life circumstances, and may well have fallen in with Mr. Strong for the same reasons, the almost 10-year gap in time and the absence of forensic or other evidence relating to what happened with Miss Fitzpatrick at the time of her death renders a singular inference on this issue impossible.Although Justice Di Luca found that the evidence showed that Strong killed Fitzpatrick and dismembered her body, there was a lack of evidence to prove that he murdered her and therefore he could not find Strong guilty of first-degree murder. Instead he found Strong guilty of manslaughter for the death of Fitzpatrick as it was clear the accused “unlawfully caused her death”. Justice Di Luca stated, “He probably did [intend to kill Fitzpatrick]. But probably is not the test.” Strong did not testify at his trial and his lawyers did not call any evidence on his behalf. Instead, the defence’s strategy was to attack the admissibility of the Crown prosecutor’s case and try to persuade the judge that the charges were not proven beyond a reasonable doubt. THE DEGREES OF MURDER In Canada, murder is the most serious offence you can be charged with and this offence carries with it some of the most serious penalties available, if convicted. First-degree murder is premeditated. In order to be convicted of first degree murder, Crown prosecutors must prove that the accused took the life of another in the following situations:
- When it is planned and deliberate;
- When a police officer or prison worker is murdered; or
- When it occurs during the commission of certain offences, such as sexual assault, kidnapping, hijacking, terrorism, intimidation or certain gang-related activities.