“How interesting it always is to cover a criminal trial and to actually be there and thus get the feel of the thing, only to be sternly corrected after the verdict is in by those who never set foot in the courtroom.
“So it is now, in the aftermath of the not guilty verdict in the Peter Khill trial in Hamilton, Ont.”
Christie Blatchford, Race was not a factor in the Peter Khill verdict
On February 26, 2020, the Court of Appeal for Ontario reversed Peter Khill’s acquittal in the death of Jonathan Styres.
Peter Khill must now face the ordeal of another lengthy courtroom trial. This is both sad and distressing.
It’s probably also unavoidable in a time where those who don’t know any of the facts stridently insist all court decisions must be rendered based on the race of the victim, not the victim’s actions that directly resulted in their untimely death.
On February 4, 2016, around 3:00am, Millie Benko, Peter Khill’s girlfriend, woke him to say she heard someone banging outside. He heard two loud bangs and looked out the window. The lights of his truck were on, meaning someone was then or had recently been inside his vehicle.
Peter Khill spent time as an army reservist, and his training taught him how to assess threat situations and deal with them proactively, so that’s exactly what he did.
The Ontario Court of Appeals Ruling describes what happened next.
 According to Mr. Khill, his military training took over when he perceived a potential threat to himself and Ms. Benko. He decided to investigate the noises and, if necessary, confront any intruder or intruders. Mr. Khill loaded the shotgun he kept in the bedroom and, armed with the shotgun, went to investigate the noises.
When he reached the back of his truck, the passenger side door was already open. Inside, Khill could see someone leaned over the seat doing something but Khill could not discern what.
 Evidence later gathered at the scene indicated that the lock on the front door of the truck had been punched out. It would appear that Jonathan Styres was trying to steal the truck or the contents in the front cab of the truck.
 Mr. Khill said in a loud voice, “Hey, hands up.” Mr. Styres, who apparently had not seen Mr. Khill, began to rise and turn toward Mr. Khill. As he turned, Mr. Khill fired a shot. He immediately racked the shotgun and fired a second shot. Both shots hit Mr. Styres in the chest. He died almost immediately.
 According to Mr. Khill, immediately after he yelled at Mr. Styres to put his hands up, Mr. Styres began to turn toward him. Mr. Styres’ hand and arm movements indicated that he had a gun and was turning to shoot Mr. Khill. Mr. Khill claimed that he believed that he had no choice but to shoot Mr. Styres. Mr. Styres did not have a gun.
Jonathan Styres was of Indigenous heritage, though his race had no bearing on what happened that fateful night, or in the trial ending with Peter Khill’s acquittal.
This didn’t stop the usual suspects from claiming both the death of a young first nations man and the acquittal of his killer meant something was seriously wrong with the justice system.
Christie Blatchford explains.
Yet the same day as the Khill verdict came down, Six Nations Council and its chief, Ava Hill, were criticizing it — “How can Indigenous people have faith in the relationship with Canada when the justice system fails to hold anyone accountable for the taking of a life?” Hill asked — and calling for an appeal.
“The trial proceeded with a number of questionable moments including the exclusion by the judge of a long interview that Peter Khill gave to the police shortly after he was arrested and the use of “lay opinion evidence” to testify to the effect of military training of Khill,” the statement read.
These weren’t “questionable moments,” but rather perfectly ordinary parts of any criminal trial.
The long interview with police was a cautioned video statement that the judge ruled inadmissible (because he said it wasn’t entirely voluntary) and which was entirely exculpatory in any case.
If the jurors had seen the interview, if anything, it might have rendered them more sympathetic to Khill because he was so clearly torn up by what he’d done and because he appeared to be such a decent, and genuine, young man.
Those criticizing the verdict weren’t in the courtroom. They didn’t hear the evidence presented to the court, nor did they know (or care) about criminal record.
Trial Judge Excludes Jonathan Styres’ Criminal History
From R. v. Khill, 2018 ONSC 4149, Ruling On Character Evidence Of The Deceased, which excluded all evidence of Jonathan Styres’ past criminal history:
11] There are five items of evidence said to be admitted for purposes of allegedly demonstrating that it is more likely that the victim reacted towards the accused with a threatening gesture, as the accused indicated he had when speaking to the 911 operator, and as it is anticipated he will repeat at trial.
 The first item consists of certified copies of informations, together with a court transcript, showing that on March 22, 2013 the victim, Jonathan Styres pleaded guilty to offenses of dangerous driving, and fail to stop when signaled to do so by police, both of which occurred on February 9, 2011. On that date police officers noticed Mr. Styres driving what was believed to be a stolen vehicle. They directed him to stop the vehicle but he refused. Cruiser lighting was activated but again he failed to stop and a high speed pursuit occurred during which Mr. Styres drove dangerously. He eventually ditched the vehicle in a field and ran away into a bush lot.
 Mr. Styres was facing outstanding charges as of the date of his death. All these charges relate to alleged thefts of motor vehicles, possession of stolen motor vehicles, possession of stolen automotive equipment, and two charges of breach of probation by failing to keep the peace and be of good behaviour. The offense date for all allegations was June 2, 2015. On February 17, 2016 all charges were withdrawn as against Mr. Styres on account of his having passed away.
 The third item relates to a charge of assaulting a peace officer. The allegation is that a corrections officer at the Toronto South Detention Centre suspected Mr. Styres to be in possession of contraband drugs, took steps to begin to search him, and observed Mr. Styres putting something in his socks. When Mr. Styres attempted to retrieve the vials they fell on the floor and the officer, in an effort to preserve the evidence, placed his right boot over the vials. The allegation is that Mr. Styres then attempted to retrieve the vials by grabbing the officer’s boot and “throwing his leg backwards to set him off balance”. This incident led to a charge of assaulting a peace officer in the execution of his duty contrary to section 270 (1) (a), as evidenced by a certified copy of the information. For reasons which are not explained, the charge was withdrawn by the Crown on September 28, 2015, which appears to have been a set date appearance.
 The fourth item is a photograph agreed to be that of Mr. Styres. It is undated. The photographer is not known. It shows him standing inside a room with his right hand holding the butt of some kind of rifle and his left hand holding the stock. It may be a shotgun. It may be sawed off. The gun is not being pointed at anyone. There is no one else in the picture. I have advised the picture surfaced as part of an online petition. There is no authentication of the picture or the circumstances under which it was taken.
 The fifth and last item is a photograph of a knife taken from the deceased. It is a folding knife. In the picture the blade is opened up. Embedded in the handle there appears to be what has been described by a police officer as a piece of metal made to look like a bullet.
In other words, Jonathan Styres was a young man with a lengthy history of crime and a propensity for violence.
Jonathan Styres refused to turn away from his life of crime. He died that night, not because he was Indigenous, but because he was a career criminal caught in the act of stealing another vehicle.
Styres is responsible for his actions that night. He chose to break into Peter Khill’s truck in his attempt to steal it.
That Peter Khill must face the ordeal of another lengthy trial is both sad and distressing.
It’s also unavoidable when those who know nothing of the facts insist all court decisions must be rendered based on the race of the victim, not their actions.
Until we, as a nation, embrace the principle of holding a person accountable for their actions, even when those actions result in that person’s death, we will never find our way through this insanity.