Gerald Stanley testifies in his own defence at 2nd-degree murder trial
Jurors hear from farmer charged with fatally shooting 22-year-old Colten Boushie
By Jason Warick, CBC News, Feb 5, 2018
Gerald Stanley has begun testifying at his second-degree murder trial after his lawyer laid out the defence team’s case this morning in a Saskatchewan courtroom.
“No games. Gerry’s going to testify. He has to,” lawyer Scott Spencer told the jury during his opening statement Monday morning at the Court of Queen’s Bench in Battleford.
“Ultimately, this comes down to a freak accident that came about over the course of an unimaginably scary situation.”
Spencer is representing the farmer charged in the 2016 death of Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old Cree man. Stanley, 56, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder. The trial is in its second week in Battleford, about 130 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon.
Spencer said Stanley feared his wife was stuck beneath a vehicle that had entered their yard. Stanley “had to get that thing stopped,” Spencer said.
According to Spencer, Stanley was intending to fire warning shots. He referred to the phenomenon of “hang fire,” in which a firearm will delay firing of a bullet.
“You have to look at it from Gerry’s perspective … the fear of the unknown,” Spencer told the jury.
Spencer said members of the Stanley family were working that day on their farm and were not “looking for trouble” when an SUV carrying five young people, including Boushie, from the Red Pheasant First Nation reserve pulled into their driveway.
Stanley didn’t have the luxury of waiting for police to arrive on his isolated farm, his lawyer said.
“For farm people, your yard is your castle. That’s part of the story here,” Spencer said.
Spencer said the case is about protecting people from harm.
“Colten Boushie’s death is a tragedy … it is never right to take someone’s life over property, but that’s not what this case is about,” Spencer said.
Spencer said there was a rifle between Boushie’s legs pointing at Stanley, but Stanley “wasn’t aware of that.”
“This wasn’t about using lethal force to repel a threat,” Spencer told the jury.
Last week Spencer said he would call several other witnesses.
On Monday morning, Spencer’s first witness, Kim Worthington, testified he saw a car driving quickly past a Bible camp near the Stanley farm.
Senior Crown prosecutor Bill Burge opened the trial last week by calling several witnesses, including RCMP officers and experts, Stanley’s son Sheldon Stanley, and three of the individuals who were in the SUV that drove onto the Stanley farm with Boushie on August 2016.
Sheldon Stanley testified he heard three gunshots, but didn’t see anything.
When he emerged from the house, he testified, Gerald Stanley told him, “‘I don’t know what happened. It just went off. I just wanted to scare them.'”
One of Boushie’s friends, Belinda Jackson, said she saw Gerald Stanley shoot Boushie in the head.
Under cross-examination, she was challenged by Stanley’s lawyer and admitted to giving vastly different accounts in earlier statements to police.
“I don’t believe you’re telling the truth,” Spencer told Jackson.
An RCMP firearms expert examined and tested the handgun used to kill Boushie. He testified there was no indication the gun was faulty in any way, and it would require a distinct trigger pull for each bullet to be fired.
Spencer called one witness Friday in advance of his opening statement Monday. A separate firearms expert also testified there were no apparent defects in the hand gun.
Following the testimony of Jackson and another Boushie friend, Cassidy Cross-Whitstone, Justice Martel Popescul took the unusual step of instructing the jury mid-trial on the issue of witness credibility and consistency.
Popescul said there may be reasons for contradictory statements, but it can affect credibility. He reminded them to use “common sense.”
Outside court, Stanley and his family have not spoken to media.
Various Boushie family members have chanted and worn shirts adorned with the slogan “Justice for Colten.”
Three weeks have been set aside for the trial, but Popescul said it could end this week if it continues to progress this quickly.