Boushie’s DNA on handgun found in Stanley home, Crown says; defence questions RCMP investigation
A jury at the trial of Gerald Stanley can expect to hear testimony from the Saskatchewan farmer’s son outlining what the son heard and saw in the moments surrounding Colten Boushie’s death, according to Crown prosecutor Bill Burge.
Burge opened his case against Stanley on Tuesday at Battleford’s Court of Queen’s Bench, promising testimony from Sheldon Stanley, the son of the Biggar-area farmer charged with second-degree murder in the Aug. 9, 2016, death of 22-year-old Indigenous man, Boushie.
Burge told court Sheldon saw an SUV drive onto his family’s property before someone exited the vehicle and attempted to start a quad left on the yard. Sheldon smashed the vehicle’s windshield with a hammer he had in his tool belt as the vehicle attempted to flee, then went inside to grab keys so he could follow the SUV.
He heard two gunshots while he was inside the house and one more after exiting the home. His father was standing with a gun and Boushie’s body was slumped over the vehicle’s steering wheel when Sheldon stepped outside the house, according to Burge.
"He saw his father standing by the driver's door of this vehicle with a gun and a clip in his hand," Burge said. "Sheldon Stanley approached the vehicle and saw Colten Boushie in the driver's seat slumped toward the steering wheel."
Two females were in the back seat, Burge told court. Two other males in the vehicle had jumped out of the SUV and ran away.
Boushie was shot once, court heard. The fatal gunshot entered behind his left ear and exited through the side of his neck.
Three spent gun casings found at the scene — two located outside the SUV and one found inside the vehicle on the dash — matched a Russian-made Tokarev handgun located inside the Stanley home, Burge said. Boushie’s DNA was on the gun and gun residue was found on Gerald Stanley’s hands.
Eleven guns were found inside Stanley’s home — two of which were pellet guns — as well as a number of corroded shell casings.
Boushie’s mother, Debbie Baptiste, was in court Tuesday for the proceedings but left when the Crown’s first witness, RCMP Cpl. Terry Heroux , warned court some photos would be graphic.
“She’s not doing too good at all,” Boushie’s uncle, Alvin Baptiste, told media outside court. “She’s not sitting in the court room, anyway, to see those graphic pictures.”
Some photos showed Boushie’s body uncovered, face down, on the ground outside the SUV. Others showed the vehicle, its front left wheel worn down to the rim, with the doors open and a body under blankets. Some showed dark blood stains on the seat and dashboard, and others showed the inside of the Stanley home and aerial views of the farm.
Seventeen live rounds and 11 spent gun casings were found inside the SUV, Heroux noted.
A rifle barrel found on the ground near Boushie’s body was visible in some photos. Sgt. Jennifer Barnes, a blood-stain-pattern analyst who testified after Heroux, said Boushie’s blood was on the gun.
Heroux told court the rifle’s stock was missing and part of the gun was bent. A live cartridge was in the chamber and five cartridges were in the built-in magazine.
RCMP investigation questioned
Gerald Stanley’s defence lawyer, Scott Spencer, who spent about three hours cross-examining officers Heroux and Barnes, poked at the police response to the incident.
He grilled Heroux on the police’s handling of the SUV, suggesting it’s RCMP policy that exhibits like the SUV be maintained indefinitely and that an obligation exists for the defence to be given access to the exhibits.
Heroux testified he followed procedure for his portion of the investigation.
Spencer said the vehicle was towed away from the scene before the defence team was able to see it.
“Why would it not be maintained so that additional evidence could be gained from it?” he asked. “Don’t you think that the defence should have had a chance so that we can find the bullet, to examine blood spatter?”
He asked Heroux why the officer didn’t look for or photograph gunshot residue inside the SUV. He asked him why no fingerprints were found on scene, to which Heroux explained dust, oils and certain surfaces can hinder finding prints. And he asked Heroux — who said he wasn’t sure — if a stock found on another property matched the stock missing from the broken rifle found beside the SUV.
Spencer also brought up concerns that a thorough blood spatter analysis wasn’t completed by officers.
Heroux said he consulted Barnes by phone but did not ask her to attend the crime scene. Barnes testified she was not sent to the scene, but, rather, analyzed photos of the blood spatter in the SUV.
Spencer questioned if analyzing the scene, instead of just photos, would not have been better and asked her, because she’s not a DNA expert, how she knew blood on the rifle matched Boushie’s blood. She said swabs from the gun matched Boushie’s DNA profile.
‘No good days’
After proceedings ended Tuesday, Spencer, without commenting on specifics of the case, told reporters outside court there are “no good days in something like this.”
“It’s a terrible situation to have to deal with, but it’s good to get the evidence starting to flow here so, to that extent, that’s good, but otherwise we’re early on,” he said.
The Crown declined to speak to reporters.
Gerald Stanley has pleaded not guilty to the second-degree murder charge.
Three weeks have been put aside for the trial.
--- Written by Kevin Menz and with files from The Canadian Press, Angelina Irinici and Melanie Nagy