Michael Hiller Acquitted in Death of Local District Fire Chief


A Windsor man charged in the death of a local district fire chief has been acquitted.

Michael Hiller had been charged with manslaughter following an altercation in March 2018 that led to the death of 51-year-old Joe St. Louis.

During the trial, the 45-year-old Hiller testified he fell on St. Louis and St. Louis struggled to get out from underneath him.

In her judgement on Tuesday afternoon, Justice Renee Pomerance described both men as "aggressors."

Defence attorney Evan Weber tells CTV Windsor, while it was unfortunate circumstances, this was the right decision.

"It was unique and it was also very difficult. Obviously, when you're dealing with a situation where a man lost his life it's difficult and very emotional, but the role of a judge is to be dispassionate and to remove the emotion and I think her honour did that here."

He says his client is pleased with the verdict, but wishes the whole thing could have been avoided.

"Obviously he's pleased with the decision. It's not lost on him or anyone, it was a difficult case. A man lost his life here and it remains a tragedy and our sympathies go out to the deceased and Mr. St Louis' family."

Weber says there are no winners in this case.

"It was ultimately a tragic event and a man lost his life. By all accounts, he was very well loved by friends and family. It remains a tragedy, but unfortunately nothing the court could have decided would have changed that."

The trial heard from a pathologist who said the cause of St. Louis' death was "brain damage due to an interruption of blood and oxygen supply due to neck compressions," but Justice Pomerance said there was doubt as to whether or not that was from the fight or from life-saving measures.

— with files from CTV Windsor