An eyewitness said someone fired two shots at him and missed moments before Colten Boushie was shot and killed.
Farmer Gerald Stanley, 56, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of second-degree murder in connection with Boushie's 2016 death. His high-profile trial has been running all week in Battleford.
This afternoon the jury heard from Eric Meechance, a 22-year-old relative of Boushie, who spent the day with Boushie and a group of friends before the shooting occurred. Meechance was the second eyewitness to testify in the case after the jury heard from Gerald Stanley's 28-year-old son Sheldon this morning.
Meechance told Crown prosecutor William Burge he arrived at the Stanley farm along with Colten Boushie, Cassidy Cross, Kiora Wuttanee, and Belinda Jackson late in the afternoon after spending the day listening to music, drinking and swimming. The group of friends also engaged in target practice with a .22-calibre rifle belonging to Cross' grandfather, he said.
After leaving the river, Meechance said Wuttanee's grey Ford Escape, with Cross behind the wheel, had a flat tire which progressively got worse as they drove. Eventually the tire was completely destroyed, he said, leaving just the bare rim.
The group stopped at a farm, Meechance said, where Cross got out and "checked" a truck. Meechance said Cross asked for "something hard to hit the window," and he handed Cross the rifle. Cross broke the rifle's wooden stock while trying to break the truck's window, he said, and the group left in the SUV.
After stopping at the first farm, Meechance said the group went to the Stanley farm, though he had never heard of Gerald Stanley at that time. Meechance said he and Cross got out of the SUV near Stanley's quad, though he insisted they did not start or move it and got back into their own vehicle.
Meechance said someone shouted "Hey! What the f***?" and the SUV's windshield was suddenly smashed into a large spiderweb. Cross tried to drive away, he said, but the lack of traction from the flat caused them to strike another vehicle, sending a cloud of white smoke billowing from the radiator.
Meechance and Cross immediately took off running from the Ford Escape, he said. As they ran, Meechance said he heard two shots fired in his direction, which he heard whistle overhead. Meechance said he lost his shoes while running, but feared for his life and didn't stop.
"I wasn't going to turn around for sandals," he testified. "I just ran barefoot."
Meechance and Cross split up after leaving the Stanley farm, Meechance said, and he was later arrested by an RCMP Police Dog Unit officer while walking by the side of the road. While sitting in an RCMP cell, Meechance said he learned of Boushie's death and "broke down."
On cross-examination, defence lawyer Scott Spencer noted Meechance did not mention the .22 rifle to police, despite admitting to using the weapon for target practice and to shoot ducks from the SUV window. Spencer suggested the important omission was due to a court order following a previous conviction.
"You've been convicted of a weapons offence yourself," Spencer said, "and you have a five-year prohibition on using a gun."
Meechance, who acknowledged the prohibition order, said he believed Cross would explain the rifle to police. The weapon was not loaded when he gave it to Cross to break the window, he said, and insisted he did not know why the weapon was found to be loaded and chambered by police investigators.
Spencer also asked Meechance what he meant by "checking" various vehicles throughout the day, asking if that was "just a service you're providing?"
"Just checking them I guess," Meechance replied. "We didn't steal nothing... there's nothing that was stolen in [the Escape]."
The defence lawyer also suggested Meechance and Cross attempted to steal Stanley's quad, but were unable to get it started.
"Whatever was going on with the quad was not motivated by help for a tire. It was motivated by theft," Spencer said. "You tried to take it, but it wouldn't go?"
Meechance avoided the question of intent, repeatedly saying the quad was not started or moved. If the quad had started, he said, "it would have been halfway down the road."
During cross-examination, Meechance was asked to refer to crime scene photos, which he said he did not wish to look at. After viewing the photos, which included graphic images of Boushie's body, Meechance bowed his head deeply and buried his face in his hands. Court was adjourned briefly.
When court reconvened roughly 20 minutes later, Spencer said he had no more questions for Meechance and court was adjourned for the day. The next Crown witnesses are expected to be Cassidy Cross, Kiora Wuttunee and Belinda Jackson — the other surviving occupants of the Ford Escape. Also on the Crown's witness list are firearms expert Greg Williams and RCMP Const. Aaron Gullacher.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Commenting on this story is closed now that the matter is before the court.
On Twitter: @TaylorMacP
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