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Trial of 2 former London jailors ends with acquittal, mistrial

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After two days of deliberations a London jury has acquitted former Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre operations manager Stephen Jurkus in the 2013 murder of Adam Kargus, who was beaten to death by his cellmate Anthony George. 

While Jurkus was able to walk away a free man on Tuesday night, the jury was deadlocked over the fate of former guard Leslie Lonsbary, ending the proceeding with the declaration of a mistrial. 

The dramatic ending follows three weeks of testimony that heard from jail guards, inmates and law enforcement officials inside London’s notorious jail. 

Kargus, who was serving a 90-day sentence for fraud, was beaten to death on October 31, 2013 by George, who was serving time for aggravated assault and had a long history of violence, most of it triggered by alcohol. 

Former guard thought Anthony George was ‘drunk’

Fomer EMDC guard Greg Langford seen here leaving the London, Ont. courthouse on Jan. 17, 2019 is a key Crown witness. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

Lonsbary was the guard on-duty the night Kargus was killed and was responsible for cell three in unit six left, where the two men were locked in a cell together overnight. 

Greg Langford, who was the guard Lonsbary was relieving that night, testified in court that just before he went home for the night he had warned both accused that there may have been alcohol in the men’s shared cell that night. 

Langford was originally charged with Jurkus and Lonsbary, but the charges were dropped after a preliminary hearing in 2015. 

During the preliminary hearing Langford said he thought George was « drunk » but later recanted in front of the jury, saying he couldn’t be sure. 

Langford testified in front of the jury that he wrote « possible brew » on a white board inside the office where Lonsbary worked that night while saying it out loud before he went to inform a supervisor. 

A brew, the court heard, is an improvised alcoholic concoction created by inmates using fermented fruit, bread and sugar that can be quite potent.   

Langford told the court he told Jurkus, who responded that there was no room segregation and George would « have to sleep it off. » 

William McVeigh, a provincial corrections investigator testified that jailhouse records show Jurkus was wrong. There was room in segregation on Halloween and had been since 10 a.m. that morning. 

Frenzy of violence

Adam Kargus, 29, was beaten to death by his cellmate Anthony George after they were locked in a cell together on Halloween in 2013. The jail’s guard and nurse suspected George was impaired that night. (Deb Abrams)

The jury also heard from inmates who were serving time at the jail that Kargus pleaded and screamed for his life as George beat him in a frenzy of violence inside their locked cell. 

Robert Graham, an inmate who was in the cell on the floor below, testified through tears that it was unlike anything he’d ever heard. 

He described the audible sounds of someone screaming for their life and told the jury he could feel the vibrations from the pounding from the floor below. 

Graham said while he had no access to a clock from his cell, he would guess that the pandemonium on the floor above lasted about an hour and waxed and waned a number of times throughout. 

Graham testified he knew the beating was over when he heard moaning and groaning coming from the cell above as if someone was being sexually gratified. 

The jury watched surveillance video that showed Lonsbary stayed in a small office and never did his security sweeps until the beating was over, which provincial regulations require about every half hour. 

Guards unable to revive Kargus

William McVeigh is an Inspector with Ontario’s department of corrections. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

The only time he left his office, the video showed, was to briefly look out into the hallway before he closed his office door. 

Guards didn’t discover Kargus’ broken body until almost 10 a.m. the next day, after George had wrapped it in a bed sheet and dragged it, along with a mattress into the section of the jail’s communal shower.

Guards were unable to revive him.  

The court heard how the pathologist who examined Kargus’ body identified more than one possible deadly injury on the 29-year-old’s body and that had Kargus survived, he surely « would have been in a vegetative state. » 

Neither Jurkus nor Lonsbary testified in court and their defence lawyers called no evidence in the case. 

Instead their lawyers argued that their clients didn’t have enough information about what was happening that night, with Lonsbary’s lawyers arguing he wasn’t aware of the presence of alcohol and that he didn’t hear the beating inside the office. 

Case raises more questions about EMDC

Anthony George spoke with The Fifth Estate after he pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of fellow inmate Adam Kargus. (CBC)

Jurkus’ defense team acknowledged while he was told there may be a « possible brew, » Adam Kargus was never mentioned and Jurkus believed George was alone in the cell that night. 

The court also heard from the defence through cross-examination of many of the Crown’s witnesses with the suggestion that the standard of care at the London jail is extremely low, with little training for guards, who often improvise their daily job duties instead of following provincial regulations. 

The case raises more questions about the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre, which has been nicknamed « the Devil’s Playground » and has one of the highest death rates among inmates in the country.

A number of families of inmates who died the jail and watched the three-week trial unfold say they’ll continue to push for reforms and justice for the inmates who’ve died while behind bars. 

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Anglais

Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme

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Get a taste of adventure with Starburst XXXtreme based on the legendary NetEnt Game. The nostalgic themes are sure to capture fans of the classic version as they get treated to higher intensity, better visuals, and features. The most significant element of the game is its volatility. Patience will not be an essential virtue considering the insane gameplay, and there is a lot of win potential involved. It retains the original makeup of the previous game while adding a healthy dose of adrenaline. 

Starburst Visuals and Symbols

The game is definitely more conspicuous than before. The setting happens over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with nine fixed win lines, which function if a succession from the left to the right reel is present. Only those players that that attain the highest win per bet line are paid. From a visual standpoint, the Starburst XXXtreme slots illustrates lightning effects behind the reels, which is not surprising as it is inherited from the original version. Available themes include Classic, Jewels, and Space. The game is also available in both desktop and mobile versions, which is advantageous for players considering the global pandemic. According to Techguide, American gamers are increasingly having more engaging gaming experiences to socialize to fill the gap of in-person interaction. Starburst XXXtreme allows them to fill the social void at a time when there is so much time to be had indoors. 

Starburst XXXTreme Features

Players get to alternate on three features which are Starburst Wilds, XXXtreme Spins, and Random Wilds. The first appears on reels 2,3, or 4. When these land, they expand to cover all positions while also calculating the wins. They are also locked for a respin. If a new one hits, it also becomes locked while awarding another respin. Starburst XXXtreme offers a choice between two scenarios for a higher stake. In one scenario with a ten times stake, the Starburst Wild is set on random on reels 2,3, or 4, and a multiplier starts the respin. The second scenario, which has a 95 times stake, starts with two guaranteed starburst wilds on reels 2,3, or 4. it also plays out using respin game sequence and features. The game also increases the potential with the Random Wilds feature to add Starburst Wilds to a vacant reel at the end of a spin. Every Starburst Wild gives a random multiplier with potential wins of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or even x150.

The new feature is sure to be a big hit with the gaming market as online gambling has shown significant growth during the lockdown. AdAge indicates the current casino customer base is an estimated one in five Americans, so Starburst XXXtreme’s additional features will achieve considerable popularity. 

What We Think About The Game

The gambling market has continued to diversify post-pandemic, so it is one of the most opportune times to release an online casino-based game. Thankfully Starburst XXXtreme features eye-catching visuals, including the jewels and space themes. These attract audience participation and make the gameplay inviting. The game also has a nostalgic edge. The previous NetEnt iteration featured similar visuals and gameplay, so the audience has some familiarity with it. The producers have revamped this version by tweaking the features to improve the volatility and engagement. 

That is characterized by the potential win cap of 200,000 times the bet. Starburst XXXtreme does not just give betting alternatives for players that want to go big. The increase of multipliers also provides a great experience. If the respins in the previous version were great, knowing that multipliers can go hundreds of times overtakes the game to a new level. 

Players should get excited about this offering. All of the features can be triggered within a single spin. Whether one plays the standard game or takes the XXXtreme spin route, it is possible to activate all of the features. Of course, the potential 200,000 times potential is a huge carrot. However, the bet size is probably going to be restricted and vary depending on the casino. It is also worth pointing out that a malfunction during the gameplay will void all of the payouts and progress. Overall, the game itself has been designed to provide a capped win of 200,000 times the original bet. 

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Anglais

‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year

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In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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Anglais

MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal

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MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.

STUDIO SHORTAGE

The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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