Retired cop was legally impaired when he shot his wife, jurors hear

Retired Toronto Police officer Lawrence (Larry) Ryan was legally impaired when he pressed the muzzle of a .22 calibre rifle at his wife’s head and shot her, jurors heard Wednesday at a Brampton murder trial.

It was one of two fatal gunshot wounds Ryan has admitted firing into his wife Susan’s head on the morning of Nov. 9, 2008

Ryan, 60, accepts he’s guilty of manslaughter in that he caused the death of his wife of more than 20 years. But he insists he never intended to kill her, his lawyer James Burke suggesting he was too drunk to form an intent to kill.

He has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the Brampton trial before Justice Joseph Fragomeni.

Crown John Raftery contends Ryan knew what he was doing when he fired four shots at his 57-year-old wife from close range as she made his breakfast in their kitchen.

Based on his blood testing, forensic toxicologist John Hinman told jurors that around 7 a.m. – roughly the time of the deadly shooting – Ryan possibly had a blood alcohol level of 347 to 387 or more than four times the legal limit.

Depending on one’s tolerance, a moderate drinker the size and height of Ryan of 5-foot-9, 220 pounds might be incoherent, acting irrational and staggering, Hinman agreed under cross examination.

Jurors heard previously that Ryan was staggering and mumbling when a hunting buddy found him in his garage around 7:30 a.m. His friend thought Ryan was having a heart attack because he had never seen him so drunk, particularly that early in the morning.

Hinman, however, agreed with Raftery that a moderate drinker with a high blood alcohol would have been unable to climb up basement stairs, sneak up behind a person and shoot her at close range without her hearing anything. But an experienced drinker might have because of his tolerance.

Jurors heard that Ryan confessed to his hunting friend that he shot his wife four times and killed her. They were supposed to go on a week long hunting trip.

Dr. Elena Tugalvea, a forensic pathologist, told jurors the muzzle of a rifle was placed against the victim’s right temple when she was shot. Another shot went into her right cheek below her ear. Both fatal wounds exited the left side of her face.

Another shot crazed the back of her neck. A fourth shot crazed her upper lip.

Her death was quick but not immediate, court heard.

Besides being an ex-cop, Ryan was also an experienced hunter, and was fully trained in gun safety.

The trial is continuing.

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