Halifax — After more than 20 hours of deliberations, a jury has found Paul Trevor Calnen guilty of the second-degree murder of his girlfriend Reita Jordan.
The group of eight women and four men had been sequestered since Thursday while they tried to determine the fate of the 52-year-old man.
Jordan’s family broke out in tears and hugs when the verdict was announced.
“All the waiting is worth it. Justice has been served,” Warren Jordan, Reita’s father, said outside the courtroom.
READ MORE: ‘Reita is much more than just this.’ Jordan family speaks as murder trial nears end
“These are tears of relief,” added Donna Jordan, Reita’s mother.”The only thing is, I wish that would bring my daughter back, but it never will, but at least for her, she’ll rest now.”
Jordan, 34, went missing in March 2013. Two months later, police charged Calnen with her murder.
The case against Calnen was originally thrown out by a provincial court judge during the preliminary hearing stage in 2014, but the charges were reinstated by the crown a short time later.
On the first day of his murder trial, Calnen pleaded guilty to indecently interfering with Jordan’s remains, by burning them. However, Calnen pleaded not guilty to killing her and the case went to trial.
For three weeks, the crown introduced dozens of exhibits and the court heard from 15 witnesses. Defence lawyer Peter Planetta put forward a motion for a directed verdict on the last week of the trial, hoping the judge would acquit the accused because of a lack of evidence. However, Justice James Chipman dismissed the motion and the case went to the jury.
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“I’m very happy for the family of Reita Jordan that this case has come to a conclusion,” said Crown attorney Susan MacKay. “It’s been a long time that this process has been ongoing. I am very happy this went before a jury and that we have a verdict.”
The Jordan family admitted they were nervous while waiting for the jury to return.
“Yesterday was terrible, but today is great,” said Donna Jordan. “I’m so happy.”
Despite the jury finding Calnen guilty, Crown attorney Rick Woodburn said the whole case was sad.
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“We have the death of a young woman and a man whose going to go away for life in prison. There’s no winners here.”
Planetta said he was surprised by the verdict and that Calnen was shocked to be found guilty of his girlfriend’s murder.
“He feels like I would expect anyone would feel when they’ve been convicted when there wasn’t enough evidence,” Planetta told Global News, adding that they plan to appeal the verdict.
The conviction carries an automatic life sentence. Parole eligibility will be determined at a hearing on Jan. 27, 2016.