Inconsistencies continued to plague testimony at Gerald Stanley’s second-degree murder trial Thursday afternoon, as a woman who was in the same SUV as Colten Boushie told court details contradicting RCMP evidence.
Belinda Jackson, 24, was with Boushie and a group of friends when they ended up on the Stanley farm on Aug. 9, 2016.
She said the group had been drinking throughout the day, and she may have fallen asleep when they left the riverbank near Maymont, southeast of North Battleford, where they had gone swimming.
She remembered Cassidy Cross driving them into Stanley’s yard.
“I felt like something was wrong just being there,” she said, noting she didn’t know what was happening when the windshield was hit.
Other testimony throughout the week has indicated the windshield was struck by a framing hammer held by Stanley’s son Sheldon, who approached the SUV after hearing someone start the family’s quad.
Jackson’s recollection then began directly contradicting other evidence in the case.
She insisted Boushie was sitting in the front passenger seat when he was shot in the head twice by Stanley, who she said was standing on the same side of the vehicle.
Photos taken by RCMP investigators at the scene, shown to court earlier in the week, depicted a bloody driver’s seat with Boushie’s body lying on the ground outside the driver’s-side door.
An autopsy report also indicates Boushie was shot once behind the left ear, with the bullet exiting his right neck.
The Crown and defence also submitted an agreed statement of facts Thursday morning, indicating Stanley’s
Tokarev handgun had fired three shots during the incident. The gun was also found to have Boushie’s DNA on it.
Defence lawyer Scott Spencer pointed out those inconsistencies, and questioned the differences between Jackson’s testimony and her previous statements to police.
“If I could be candid, I don’t believe you are telling the truth,” he said.
He noted she had told police she thought a woman shot Boushie, but also told them she hadn’t witnessed the shooting or heard any shots.
A new detail emerging from Jackson’s testimony was the suggestion Sheldon Stanley had gone into the house to get something other than his truck keys.
Jackson told court she heard a voice say, “go get a gun,” and later said she saw a younger man holding what looked like a shotgun.
A shotgun was one of the nine firearms documented inside the Stanley home.
Jackson also described her version of how Stanley retrieved his own weapon.
She told the jury she saw Stanley go into his garage for about a minute before emerging with a handgun.
“He came around the car … and shot him in the head,” she said.
The testimony came just after Spencer grilled Cross about his memories of the day Boushie was shot. During the cross-examination of the 18-year-old, Cross admitted he had lied to police in his initial statements and to court when he testified in Stanley’s preliminary hearing.
Firearms specialist weighs in
The jury also learned on Thursday the bullet casing found in the SUV had an “unusual bulge” according to a firearms expert called by the Crown.
Greg Williams, a forensic firearms specialist, told court the bulge could be caused by several factors — from a different sized cartridge and barrel to a blocked slide action.
Focus was placed however on the possiblity of a “hang-fire,” which is when the trigger of a gun is pulled and the bullet’s discharge is delayed.
Williams said in his experience with firearms, he has never witnessed a hang-fire.
“They are exceedingly rare,” he said.
He noted a hang-fire on its own wouldn’t produce the bulge seen in the casing.
Williams also said he performed several “shock tests” on the Tokarev handgun belonging to Stanley, which an agreed statement of facts notes was responsible for the gunshots on the day Boushie died.
Despite tests including the dropping of the firearm and bumping it, the gun wouldn’t fire if the trigger wasn’t pulled.
Firing tests were also performed on a damaged .22-calibre rifle found near Boushie’s body. The rifle had a bent barrel, damaged bolt and was missing both a stock and trigger guard.
Williams said the rifle would only discharge a shot if he hit it with a hammer, but not when he pulled the trigger.
The firearms expert will be cross-examined Friday morning.
Chief Justice Martel Popescul, who is presiding over the trial, said the witness testimony was making enough progress it could reduce the length of proceedings from three weeks to two weeks.
Spencer indicated the defence would only be calling one “critical witness,” but didn’t specify who it would be.
—With files from 980 CJME’s Kevin Martel.