A jury in the High Court at Rotorua has begun its deliberations to decide whether Hendrix John Kahia murdered Wiremu Birch at Taupō on October 11, 2013.
When the trial began on February 11 Kahia 35, denied killing the 19-year-old Birch by stabbing him.
Addressing the jury today before sending the jury out, Justice Edwin Wylie told them the only person on trial was Kahia.
"You must not think you have to hold someone to account for Mr Birch's death, in particular the Crown witness [the defence alleges killed Birch] is not on trial, but if you think that man or someone else was responsible for Mr Birch's death you must acquit Mr Kahia," the judge said.
The judge canvassed evidence and counsels' arguments the jury heard, reminding them the female with Birch when he was stabbed three times initially told police the Crown witness referred to had "clotheslined" her, knocking her to the ground, however in evidence said this hadn't happened. When Crown prosecutor Chris Macklin re-examined her she claimed she had lied when she told police the Crown witness had stabbed Birch.
In his evidence the Crown witness had denied getting out of the car while the fight was in progress but said he had seen someone making backwards and forwards motions towards Birch.
He admitted he had used words to the effect "we out, we out" at the end of the fight and saying "no one needs to know about this".
He denied "clotheslining" the female witness, stabbing Birch or putting pressure on the woman to go to the police and change her story.
Justice Wylie pointed out that when questioned by Kahia's lawyer, Elizabeth Hall, this man agreed he initially told police he didn't know what happened to Birch but in a second interview talked of seeing a knife and drawing a picture of it.
Because of the length of time that had elapsed since the stabbing it was important the jury considered that memories fade but they also needed to take into account a number of witnesses gave evidence that was at variance with earlier statements they had made.
For this reason they needed to be cautious about accepting them and finding Kahia guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
Justice Wylie reminded jurors the female with Birch had been recalled during the trial at his direction because it had come to light there had been contact between her and the Crown witness while the trial was under way.
She said the messages from him were supporting her and denied he'd told her to change her story. She had since deleted them.
He instructed the jury to consider whether this was collusion or contaminated evidence and treat it with caution.
He referred to evidence from the defence's sole witness, Hematate Cairns-Hakiwai, in which he claimed the Crown witness told him he'd stabbed someone in Tauranga. They had to weight up whether this was incorrect and it had been Taupo he referred to.
"You must assess all the evidence you believe to be reliable," the judge directed, telling jurors it was important they focus on the issues relevant to their verdict.
He assured them there was no rush to reach a verdict.
"This is a serious matter, you must give it as much time as you need."