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Closing arguments heard in trial for Sask. dad accused of abducting daughter

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Closing arguments were heard Thursday morning in the case of Michael Gordon Jackson, the Saskatchewan man accused of abducting his daughter in 2021 to keep her from getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Both sides asked the 14-person jury to judge Jackson’s intent for his actions.

Jackson claims it was not his intent to withhold the child from her mother, only to prevent her from a COVIC-19 vaccine.

“You are the triers of the facts,” Jackson, who has been representing himself, told the jury. “As a criminal matter, this case is easy to resolve.”

From the outset, Justice Heather MacMillian-Brown has told the jury the burden of proving guilt has laid with the Crown.

“At the heart of the matter, Mr. Jackson clearly illustrated his intention,” prosecutor Zoe Kim-Zeggelaar argued.

“The overwhelming amount of evidence demonstrated unanimously with undisputed facts, that intention was never proved,” Jackson believes.

In his testimony, Jackson told the court he went into hiding because he felt “there was no remedy in the court.”

“No one testified, not even [the mother], it was to deprive [my child] from the mother,” he said in his closing arguments Thursday. “Everyone stated what my intention was.”

Jackson reiterated it was his sole intention to keep her daughter from being vaccinated.

“In every sense of the meaning, the singular reason [for taking her] was to be her father,” he said. “And protect her from the imminent, irreparable and irreversible harm of the COVID-19 vaccine.”

“Those actions were in contravention of an otherwise legal custody order,” the Crown rebutted.

Based on his own testimony, the Crown argued Jackson could not have intended one singular outcome.

“He had to intend to deprive the mother [of seeing her daughter],” Kim-Zeggelaar said. “He still had to carry out that action to carry out [his] goals.”

“His intention was to deprive the mother,” she added. “The reason was to prevent her from vaccinating [their daughter].”

Custody order arguments

The couple’s custody order in place in November 2021 outlined the wife had final say on decisions about the child’s health but should consult with the father.

Jackson testified he asked the mother for over eight months leading up to the events her feelings on the COVID-19 vaccine.

In her testimony last week, she said she was awaiting guidance from the government and Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA).

“[She] did not allow me whatsoever to have any say,” Jackson argued. “[Her] persistent contravention of the custody order forced the situation.”

The Crown argued to the jury Jackson did have input into the decision after sending multiple articles and links over text about the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Even though there was no formal discussion, it was clear what his opinion was,” Kim-Zeggelaar said. “He stated he did not want her vaccinated and expressed that to the mother.”

“He didn’t have medical decision making power,” she added. “He took control back and he took the law into his own hands.”

'He went dark'

The Crown’s final aspect of argument focused on Jackson’s actions while in hiding.

“From [Nov. 21, 2021] to Feb. 22, 2022, the mother did not speak to her daughter and did not know where she was,” Kim-Zeggelaar told the jury. “In January 2022, no one knew where Jackson was or the condition of [his daughter].”

“He went dark,” she added.

In his testimony, Jackson said he was always willing to negotiate with police and the mother about the child’s return.

“I was stonewalled,” Jackson argued.

But Kim-Zeggelaar argued he was never the one to reach out or initiate those conversations.

“It was RCMP who contacted [Shawn Sim] to establish contact with Jackson,” she said. “He was arrested because police tracked his phone. Not because he reached out [to them] or turned himself in.”

Both the mother and father testified Jackson asked the mother for a signed and sworn affidavit promising she would not vaccinate the child.

But when it came, Jackson did not believe it would be carried through.

“He didn’t trust the courts and didn’t trust the mother,” Kim-Zeggelaar said.

Kim-Zeggelaar then quoted a text conversation between Jackson and Sim after the mother submitted such a promise in an affidavit.

“That was the first thing [Jackson] asked for,” she said. “And he called it, ‘a half-assed legal promise.”

The Crown finalized its argument by showing Jackson saw no end to the dispute.

“These are the actions of someone who was prepared to hold [the daughter] for as long as needed until he got what he wanted,” Kim-Zeggelaar said. “Mr. Jackson set up a no-win situation.”

Jackson ended his argument by “humbly asking” the jury to find him innocent.

“My intention was abundantly clear,” Jackson said. “And if there is any doubt in your mind of my intentions; the law says I am not guilty.”

Justice MacMillian-Brown scheduled court to continue Friday morning when the jury will be read Jackson’s final charge and instructions.

Before deliberations begin, two of the 14 jury members will be randomly removed.

They will then be released “until a unanimous verdict is reached,” the justice said.

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