The jury in Gerald Stanley’s second-degree murder trial heard the last arguments from lawyers in the case Thursday.
Defence lawyer Scott Spencer told the seven women and five men to put themselves in Stanley’s shoes, and ask what would be a reasonable response to the “rollercoaster” situation.
“You’re faced with uncertainty, fear, all those factors,” Spencer said. “But still, you have to measure response. And I think Gerry did.”
He contended his client had no desire to shoot anyone on Aug. 9, 2016, when Colten Boushie’s body was found near an SUV that was involved in an altercation with the Stanleys in their farmyard.
Spencer said the situation turned for the worse again once the SUV veered into Stanley’s wife’s vehicle.
“He’s an old guy and doesn’t want to be in a confrontation. He just wants them to leave,” Spencer said of Stanley.
After thinking his son would then continue the altercation, Spencer said Stanley then grabbed what was handy — a pistol just inside the door of his shed — to scare the intruders off.
“Does it make sense, if it’s there, to go get it and fire some warning shots? I submit it does,” Spencer said.
The defence theory of a hang fire was also renewed, with Stanley’s lawyer saying he never intended to shoot anyone that day.
A hang fire is when a trigger is pulled, but there’s a delay in the firing process.
Spencer brought up RCMP policy to hold a firearm in a safe direction for 30 to 60 seconds in case of a delayed discharge, and noted Stanley said he pulled the trigger “three or four times” for the warning shots during his testimony.
The lawyer said after Stanley ran to the SUV, concerned his wife was underneath, the gun went off accidentally as a hang fire.
“It’s such a tragedy because of all the bad luck that occurred,” Spencer said.
He noted in order for the jury to convict Stanley of murder, they would have to deem his actions as a “marked departure from that of a reasonable person.”
“Would you have done anything different?” Spencer asked.
‘Stanley … told a bit of a story’: Crown
Crown Prosecutor Bill Burge addressed the jury after Spencer, reminding them of a firearms expert’s testimony saying the Tokarev pistol Stanley used wasn’t prone to misfire.
He noted the gun wouldn’t have been able to load any ammunition if Stanley’s story were true. Burge explained the slide needs to pull forward with a magazine in the gun to load another round into the chamber.
Stanley testified he had pulled the magazine out and the slide was all the way back, indicating the gun was empty.
“It couldn’t be a hang fire because there’s nothing there to fire,” Burge said. “If Mr. Stanley’s telling us that somehow the cartridge was so far out of place that it looked like it was empty, I’m suggesting it wouldn’t have fired.”
He also questioned Stanley’s suggestion he had run to the SUV after fearing his wife was underneath it.
Burge noted Eric Meechance testified running through a hedge and finding a woman on a riding lawnmower on the opposite side of the home from where the SUV was.
While much of Meechance’s testimony was questionable, Burge said the man had “no reason” to lie about the detail.
Evidence photos taken by RCMP showed the lawnmower positioned in front of the SUV, but Burge suggested it may have been moved.
He also referred to Sheldon Stanley’s testimony, which noted his father walked up to the SUV — didn’t run — and the third shot was fired after.
“Gerald Stanley, I’m suggesting, told a bit of a story here,” Burge said.
The Crown lawyer also pointed to Sheldon’s memory of his father’s comments – which made no mention of concern for his wife.
“I just wanted to scare them,” Sheldon remembered Gerald saying. “I bumped (him) and it just went off.”
Burge told the jury if they don’t believe a hang fire was possible, Stanley walked up to the vehicle and intentionally pulled the trigger.
“That’s murder,” he said.
If they instead believe the gun went off accidentally, Burge said Stanley showed carelessness with his firearm and could be convicted for manslaughter.
Chief Justice Martel Popescul will deliver his charge to the jury at 2:15 p.m. Thursday.
RCMP asks public to be ‘civil’
A growing number of demonstrators appeared outside the courthouse throughout the day Thursday, holding signs demanding “Justice for Colten” and chanting as people left for lunch.
Jade Tootoosis, Boushie’s cousin, hugged the gathered supporters in the morning.
— Chris Vandenbreekel (@Vandecision) February 8, 2018
Boushie’s uncle, Alvin Baptiste, said he was “humbled” by the support.
Dozens of Gerald Stanley’s friends and supporters also gathered in the courtroom.
The Saskatchewan RCMP released a statement Thursday morning asking people to remain “peaceful and civil” as the case comes to a close, “regardless of the outcome.”
“Engaging with each other in a respectful and responsible manner is the only way we can truly work towards building stronger, safer communities,” Assistant Commissioner Curtis Zablocki said in the statement.
The RCMP reminded people they can be held accountable for their actions both online and in person, with police investigating any suspected criminal behaviour.