His Majesty the King v. Melissa Merritt

(Ontario) (Criminal) (By Leave)


Criminal law — Charge to jury — Appeals — Role of appellate courts when reviewing jury instructions and factual findings in large, complex criminal prosecutions — Role of appellate courts when assessing the overall functionality of jury charges — Role of appellate courts in assessing and applying the curative proviso — Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, s. 686(1)(b)(iii)


Case summaries are prepared by the Office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada (Law Branch). Please note that summaries are not provided to the Judges of the Court. They are placed on the Court file and website for information purposes only.

Respondent Melissa Merritt’s former spouse was fatally attacked in Ontario on August 23, 2013.

Ms. Merritt was interviewed by police that day. During the interview she recounted her movements from the evening before, including a visit to a shopping mall. However, Ms. Merritt did not tell police that while at the mall, her common law spouse had purchased shoes. Those shoes were later forensically linked to the killing of Ms. Merritt’s former spouse.

Shortly after the killing, Ms. Merritt moved to Nova Scotia. Several months later, Ms. Merritt and her common law spouse were arrested, charged with murder, and transported back to Ontario. While at the airport awaiting transport, police intercepted and recorded a conversation between them.

Following a trial before a jury, Ms. Merritt was convicted of first degree murder.

Ms. Merritt appealed from her conviction, arguing that the trial judge committed significant errors in his jury instruction concerning: (1) her failure to mention the shoe purchase to police; and (2) the intelligibility of a statement she made in the recorded conversation from the airport. The Court of Appeal allowed Ms. Merritt's appeal, set aside her conviction, and ordered a new trial.

Lower Court Rulings

January 13, 2018
Ontario Superior Court of Justice

Conviction for first degree murder.
January 5, 2023
Court of Appeal for Ontario

2023 ONCA 3, C65316
Appeal allowed; conviction set aside, new trial ordered.