The conviction of an elderly Richmond woman found guilty of murdering her friend more than 20 years ago has been upheld by the B.C. Court of Appeal.
In November 2011, a B.C. Supreme Court jury found Jean Ann James, 72, guilty in the 1992 first-degree murder of Gladys Wakabayashi, 41, the daughter of a Taiwanese billionaire.
An initial investigation resulted in no charges, but in 2007, police launched an undercover operation against James. Court heard her confess that she used a box cutter to slit the throat of Wakabayashi in the woman’s Shaughnessy home after discovering she was having an affair with James’s husband.
On appeal, James’s lawyers argued the trial judge erred in admitting the opinions of police that a partial shoe print at the murder scene appeared to be a woman’s high-heeled shoe.
The defence also contended that B.C. Supreme Court Justice Catherine Bruce failed to give proper instructions to the jury about evidence of James’s bad character. But in a ruling released Friday, a three-member appeal-court panel found the trial judge’s charge to the jury sufficiently covered the bad-character statements James made to the undercover officers.
The court found that the shoe-print evidence fell within lay-opinion evidence and was admissible to show a potential inconsistency in the confession.
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