NEWS

Man accused of killing fiancée during sex awaits verdict

05/15/2012 01:21 EDT | Updated 07/15/2012 05:12 EDT

A jury is about to decide the fate of a Nova Scotia man who told police he accidentally killed his fiancée during a night of drunken sex.

James Leopold, 33, is on trial for second-degree murder in the death of Laura Lee Robertson last year.

Closing arguments wrapped up Tuesday in Supreme Court in Bridgewater. Starting Wednesday, it will be up to the jurors to decide whether Leopold intended to kill Robertson.

Robertson, 47, was reported missing in April 2011. Leopold was arrested a few days later, shortly before his fiancée's body was found in a wooded area in Greenfield.

On Monday, the jury watched a video where Leopold told police he hit Robertson in the neck but didn't mean to kill her. He said she bit his penis during sex and he reacted to the pain.

"I just hit her in the neck and broke it," Leopold said on the tape.

He said they both had been drinking that night in their Liverpool apartment. He also told police he panicked and placed Robertson's body in the woods the next day.

Defence lawyer Chris Manning didn't call any witnesses.

In his closing statement, Manning told the jurors they should consider Leopold's state of mind at the time because he was probably experiencing a sudden shift from euphoria to pain.

He said Leopold and Robertson were a happy couple who were planning to get married.

Earlier in the trial, the jury heard that Robertson died of asphyxiation. The Crown claimed Leopold's hands would have had to be on Robertson's neck for four to five minutes — longer than just a punch.

"The Crown's theory is that he was acting out of anger when he killed her. He indicated that there was a bite that took place," said Crown attorney Leigh-Ann Bryson.

"The Crown submitted to the jury that he acted in anger at the culmination of all of these arguments. He made the choice to kill her, to end her life."

Jury deliberations will begin Wednesday after Justice Kevin Coady gives his instructions.

A conviction of second-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence.

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