Jury to retire in church murder trial

JUSTICE Peter Applegarth will finish his summing up to a jury this morning before it retires to consider a verdict on a murder in a Maryborough churchyard.

Richard John Meerdink, 40, and Jason Andrew Pearce, 38, are jointly charged with murdering Wayne Ruks in St Mary's Catholic Church grounds on July 3, 2008.

Both have pleaded not guilty to murder but Pearce has indicated he would plead guilty to manslaughter.

Yesterday Justice Applegarth spent most of the day summing up the case to the jury.

The jury has been told that to find Meerdink and Pearce guilty of murder they must find the accused men caused the death and that the accused men intended to cause death or grievous bodily harm or were a party to.

Throughout the trial before the Maryborough Supreme Court, the jury has heard from more than 40 witnesses.

CCTV footage has been played to the court which shows three men, identified as the victim and the two accused, arriving at the church to drink cask wine around 9pm.

Pearce told police in an interview that he had reacted to Mr Ruks after the victim made homosexual advances to him.

Mr Ruks was living at the Post Office Hotel at the time.

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This week he was sentenced in Hervey Bay District Court.