Gerald Stanley’s defence lawyer Scott Spencer told court Colten Boushie’s death was a “freak accident” during his opening arguments Monday morning.
Spencer told the jury “Gerry” was frightened and believed his wife Leesa was underneath the SUV Boushie and his friends were in when he fired warning shots at the group.
He also gave a preview of what he said his client will testify happened on Aug. 9, 2016.
Spencer said Stanley wasn’t out looking for trouble, and didn’t have the luxury of a quick police response when the SUV of “intruders” rolled on to his farm.
“What is a reasonable response?” Spencer asked the jury. “Is shouting a reasonable response? … Is firing warning shots reasonable?”
The defence lawyer said while there was a self-defence component to the case, it wasn’t his main argument because Stanley never saw the broken rifle between Boushie’s legs.
His case rests on the possibility of a “hang fire,” where the trigger is pulled but there is a delay in the discharge of a round.
A firearms expert called by the Crown told court last week a hang fire could only theoretically delay a shot by 0.5 seconds. However, he and a defence firearms specialists told the jury the RCMP teaches to hold a firearm in a safe direction for 30-60 seconds after pulling the trigger in case of a delay.
“No one can say how long,” Spencer said. “Hang fires do happen … and this one happened at the worst possible time.”
Spencer said Stanley saw the SUV stopped just in front of a riding lawnmower in the yard, leading Stanley to believe it may have run over his wife – who was on the mower before the incident started.
When he heard Boushie trying to start the vehicle again, he decided he had to try and get the keys.
However, Spencer said Stanley had taken the magazine out of his gun and then the shot fired — Sheldon told court he found his father with the gun and magazine separated in his hands.
Spencer also suggested while the people in the SUV weren’t on trial, their actions should be taken into consideration.
“If they would’ve just stopped drinking … stopped drinking and driving … stopped vandalizing, this wouldn’t have happened,” Spencer said as members of the Boushie family shook their heads in the gallery.
He noted the young group probably “didn’t believe they were a threat to anyone,” but were ultimately “terrorizing” the Stanley family.
He said it’s never justifiable to shoot someone in defence of property, but the jury would have to consider what was going through Stanley’s head during the incident.
“Gerry is going to testify to that,” Spencer said.
Once court resumed after lunch, Stanley took the stand. Here’s 650 CKOM’s Chris Vandenbreekel with the latest: