Accused was laughing, holding a bloody-box cutter after Patrick Dong’s death: Witness
A woman who sat in a truck, just meters from Patrick Dong’s bleeding body, testified at Saskatoon’s Court of Queen’s Bench on Wednesday.
On the third day of the first-degree murder trial for a 19-year-old woman accused of killing Dong, the Crown called on Autumn Smith. The woman charged can’t be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act because she was 17 when the alleged murder occurred. The accused has entered a not-guilty plea.
On Tuesday, court heard from a witness who claimed Dong was dragged into the back of the truck after a heated argument.
Smith was one of the people in the gold pickup truck on Oct. 22, 2016 – the night of Dong’s death.
Tense moments in the truck before Dong’s death
Leading to Dong’s death, Smith said she’d been smoking crystal meth earlier in the day with Claude Gauthier, the owner and driver of the gold pickup.
She testified that the two then drove to a brown house on Avenue D South, so Gauthier could question Dong about stealing a friend’s cellphone.
After about 30 minutes, Gauthier came out of the house with Dong and two other men, Smith testified. The men had arms full of Dong’s stuff and loaded it in the back of the truck before they all piled into the back of the pickup.
“Tense, everyone was accusing Pat of stealing a cellphone,” Smith said of the mood inside the truck, adding they kept berating Dong trying to coax him into admitting he stole the cellphone.
Smith said she was sitting between Gauthier and the accused in the front three seats of the truck.
Bloody box-cutter in the accused hands: Witness
She said the argument in the truck heated up and eventually Gauthier drove them all to a gravel road, on the outskirts of Saskatoon, off Highway 60.
Once pulled over on the side, Smith said she and Gauthier stayed in the truck while the accused and two men led Dong out of the truck.
Smith recalled hearing a loud crack as someone struck Dong’s head with an object. Smith wasn’t sure if it was a crowbar or a baseball bat, but the sound reminded her of a time she saw an elderly man fall, hitting his head on the sidewalk.
In fear of what was coming next, Smith said she saw Dong run around the truck while two men and the accused chased after him. Gauthier pulled his truck around and tried to cut Dong off, according to the witness.
Dong ended up falling in a ditch. Hard to tell what exactly she was seeing, Smith said she saw dark figures around Dong’s body as he lay in the ditch. Moments later the two men and the accused jumped back into the truck.
She told court that the 19-year-old accused sat next to her holding a bloody box cutter. The following day Smith said she learned about Dong’s death.
Smith also noted how hysterical the accused seemed following the incident. In her first statement to police, Smith compared the accused to a psychotic Hollywood villain.
“She was so happy…crazy, psychotic after the stabbing,” Smith said in court.
Under cross-examination, defense lawyer Carson Demmans challenged the witness, asking if her recollection of that evening may have been impacted by her meth use earlier. The court heard how Smith had been alongside Gauthier on a three-week meth bender and she hadn’t slept in days.
After hearing Smith open up about her hallucinations – seeing shadows and hearing voices – Demmans asked if perhaps the dark figures she saw in the ditch with Dong’s body were fictitious. Smith said she doesn’t remember seeing shadows and hallucinations on the night of Dong’s death.
Smith said she knew the accused before Dong’s death. Smith told the court she had seen the accused in a STEP recovery program, and remembers the accused getting kicked out of class because she was under the influence of cannabis.