No evidence farmer pulled trigger: defence closing arguments in murder trial

By Bill Graveland

THE CANADIAN PRESS

BATTLEFORD, Sask.- The defence lawyer for a Saskatchewan farmer charged in a fatal shooting says there’s no evidence that he meant to kill a young Indigenous man.

Gerald Stanley is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 22-year-old Colten Boushie from the Red Pheasant First Nation in August 2016.

Court has heard that Boushie was shot in the head while he was sitting in the driver’s seat of an SUV that had been driven onto Stanley’s farm near Biggar, Sask.

Defence lawyer Scott Spencer says in his closing arguments that the Crown must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Stanley fired at Boushie intentionally if the murder charge is to stick.

The trial in Battleford, Sask., has already heard that the farmer fired warning shots into the air and then reached into the SUV for the ignition keys when he says his gun accidentally went off.

Spencer is arguing that Boushie’s death was a tragedy but an accident.

“There’s no evidence he (Stanley) pulled the trigger,” Spencer told jurors on Thursday.

“A lot of people would have assaulted the driver and gotten physical,” Spencer said. “He reaches in (to the car) … and turns the vehicle off. The gun goes off at the same time.”

Spencer said there was no intention to murder.

“Bottom line is Gerry was in a nightmare situation. He didn’t have any intention of hurting anyone and certainly no intention of shooting anyone. The question is, if you were in Gerry’s boots, would you be expected to do anything different?”

The lawyer said the shooting was a freak accident.

“It’s not criminal. It’s a tragedy, but it’s not criminal. You must acquit,” he told the jury.

“Some people aren’t going to be happy. You have to do what is right based on the evidence you heard in this courtroom. You must acquit.”

The defence lawyer also suggested that Stanley shooting into the air as a warning was a “measured response” given the circumstances.

“He wasn’t looking for trouble. He was going to use them to scare them away. Is that a measured response? That was a very measured response.”

The trial has heard that the SUV that Boushie and four others were in that day had a flat tire. The driver testified the group had been drinking and tried to break into a truck on a neighbouring farm, but went to the Stanley property in search of help with the tire.

Stanley testified he and his son heard the SUV drive into the farmyard and then heard one of their all-terrain vehicles start.

Both he and his son thought it was being stolen.

At one point, court was told, the SUV hit another vehicle on the property and Stanley believed his wife was being run over.

The chief of the Red Pheasant First Nation issued a statement on Wednesday that said residents were anxiously waiting for the outcome of the trial.

Chief Clint Wuttunee said Boushie’s death has wounded his family, traumatized the people he was with that day and affected everyone on the reserve.

“The untimely death of yet another First Nations youth has had a far-reaching impact on the people of Red Pheasant First Nation and in the First Nations community.”

 

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