Lamar Skeete v. Her Majesty the Queen

(Ontario) (Criminal) (By Leave)

(Publication ban in case)


Criminal law - Evidence, Admissibility - Criminal law — Evidence — Admissibility — Principles applicable to admissibility of evidence — When, if ever, should rap compositions, or other forms of musical expression, be admitted as evidence of guilt.


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The Crown’s theory was that Mr. Skeete shot and killed Mr. Mark in retaliation for Mr. Mark’s implication of Mr. Skeete and another individual in his prior shooting. Partway through the trial, the Crown became aware that Mr. Skeete had posted a composition entitled “Live from the Don” on a website. The Crown sought a ruling on the admissibility of a single lyric from the composition. The trial judge held that the evidence was admissible. After a trial by judge and jury, the applicant was convicted of first degree murder. The Court of Appeal held that the trial judge’s probative value versus prejudicial effect analysis was flawed such that his conclusion was not entitled to deference. The Court of Appeal considered the question of the admissibility of the evidence afresh and ruled that it was admissible. The conviction appeal was dismissed by the Court of Appeal.