Woman in Boushie SUV describes shooting; defence questions testimony
Published Thursday, February 1, 2018 7:39PM CST
Last Updated Thursday, February 1, 2018 7:56PM CST
A woman who says she was in an SUV with Colten Boushie when the 22-year-old was killed claims she heard someone say, “Go get a gun,” about one minute before the fatal shooting.
Belinda Jackson, who testified on day three of evidence at Gerald Stanley’s second-degree murder trial in Battleford, told court she and another woman were in the vehicle’s backseat when Boushie was shot Aug. 9, 2016, on Stanley’s farm near Biggar, Sask.
“I just feel like it happened all so fast,” Jackson said.
The 24-year-old told court she saw, after hearing a man on the farm say to get a gun, a “younger man” on the property go into the house prior to the shooting, while another man walked into a garage and grabbed a handgun.
The man who Jackson claims grabbed the handgun shot Colten, she said.
"He came out with his own handgun. He came around the car to the passenger side and he shot Colten in the head,” Jackson testified. “I'm not comfortable describing how he shot him.”
The other man was holding what Jackson believes was a shotgun when he exited the home, she told court.
Jackson identified Stanley as the shooter during cross-examination of her testimony, but she also stated she didn’t realize he was the man who fired the shots until she saw a photograph of the 56-year-old and saw him at the case’s preliminary hearing.
She also said she believes she heard four shots. Two were aimed at Boushie and two were aimed at two other men who were running from the scene, she claimed.
Boushie was shot once, according to Crown prosecutor Bill Burge. The fatal shot entered behind Boushie’s left ear and exited through the side of his neck.
Burge said in his opening arguments Tuesday the Red Pheasant First Nation man was in the SUV’s driver seat when he was hit, but Jackson was adamant during her testimony he was sitting in the front passenger seat, facing the window. The shooter was on the passenger side, she said.
Defence lawyer Scott Spencer challenged her statement, questioning how the fatal shot could follow its trajectory — behind Boushie’s left ear and through the side of his neck — if Boushie was in the passenger seat.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” he said. “I can’t imagine how that could possibly be true. Help me.”
He also challenged her identification of Stanley as the shooter, asking if media coverage influenced her story — to which she replied no — and he called out what he said were inconsistencies between her testimony and statements to police. According to Spencer, Jackson told police she didn’t hear or see gunshots and said she saw a woman holding a gun.
“You agree with me at the time you were denying knowing anything about the shooting?” Spencer asked.
“Yeah,” replied Jackson. “I just wasn’t comfortable telling him, I guess.”
She said she was still drunk and confused when she gave her statement to police. She was in a RCMP cell for more than 12 hours without eating or sleeping, she said.
Witness says he lied to police, Crown
Jackson, one of four people with Boushie when the SUV drove onto the Stanley farm, was one of two in the group to take the stand Thursday.
Cassidy Cross, who said he was driving the SUV, also testified and admitted to the court to lying during the case’s preliminary hearing and to police.
The 18-year-old, under cross examination by Spencer, admitted he changed his story the day before his testimony at Stanley’s trial.
“After the trial started you thought it good to take the Crown and the police officer aside and say, ‘Actually, we did have a gun. It was my gun. We were stealing. We used the gun to try and break into a vehicle’?" defence lawyer Scott Spencer asked. "So that's all stuff you told the police last night after court?"
"I told the Crown," Cross responded. "Because honestly I was scared for myself and I was scared for the people there that they might get into trouble. I know that was wrong but that's just how I was feeling over there."
Gun expert takes stand
Stanley has pleaded not guilty to the second-degree murder charge.
His son, Sheldon, testified Wednesday he was helping his father, a farmer and mechanic, build a fence when the SUV drove onto the yard. He at first thought the people in the vehicle were clients of his dad, but came to the conclusion the group was trying to steal their property when one of the SUV’s occupants started an ATV that was on the farm.
He and his father ran toward the SUV, Sheldon said, and Sheldon, who was carrying a tool belt, used a hammer to smash the vehicle’s windshield as it attempted to drive away. Stanley kicked the taillight, according to his son.
Sheldon then ran into his family’s home to, he said, grab his truck keys. He heard one gunshot just before entering the home, one shot while inside the house and a third after exiting the home.
He and his father looked at each other after the third shot. His dad was standing close to the SUV, holding a handgun and a clip, and appeared as if he’d be sick, Sheldon said.
“I don’t know what happened. It just went off. I just wanted to scare them,” his father said, according to Sheldon.
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, according to Burge, the Crown prosecutor. Boushie’s DNA was on the gun and gun residue was found on Gerald Stanley’s hands.
A forensic firearms expert, Greg Williams, testified Thursday he found “an unusual bulge” in the cartridge found on the SUV’s dash.
He said he couldn’t determine what caused the bulge but listed five speculations: a mechanical malfunction in the pistol, the cartridge was fired by a gun with a different sized barrel, the barrel was obstructed, the slide was blocked, or the ammunition was defective.
Defective ammunition can cause what’s called a hang fire, which is a delay between when the trigger is pulled and when the gun fires, but Williams noted a hang fire alone wouldn’t cause the bulge. He also said hang fires are rare.
The expert, who wrote three reports after analyzing evidence from the Stanley property, reminded the jury his speculations are just that and he, ultimately, testified he’s unsure what caused the bulged cartridge.
He also noted a rifle missing its stock, found near Boushie’s body, wouldn’t fire without using a hammer because the receiver was bent.
The Tokarev handgun would only fire normally — by pulling the trigger — he said.
Three weeks are set aside for the trial. More Crown witnesses are expected to take the stand Friday.
--- Written by Kevin Menz, with files from Angelina Irinici and The Canadian Press