The lawyer helping a Yukon man accused of assault says the alleged victim’s version of events are unbelievable.
Michael Nehass is representing himself at a Yukon Supreme Court trial this week. He is facing five charges from December 21, 2011, including assault while threatening to use a weapon, forcible confinement and uttering death threats.
To help the 31-year-old, who opted to represent himself, the court has appointed lawyer Bibhas Vaze.
It was Vaze who cross-examined the alleged victim in this case, Agnes Reid, on Wednesday.
He suggested her entire story – about being grabbed by Nehass, dragged into a Watson Lake apartment, hit, choked and threatened with a knife – was completely made up.
In reality, Vaze suggested, Reid was heavily involved in drug trafficking.
The lawyer went so far as to suggest everything Reid said was based on paranoia because she was high.
He suggested she “made up everything because to you, in your mind, Mr. Nehass was a young punk in town.”
Reid vehemently denied all of this. “Do I have to answer these (questions)?” she asked, clearly frustrated at one point.
Reid has testified that, at the time of the attack, she was clean and sober for two years.
She admitted to later having her home searched for drugs in 2014. She was charged with trafficking but never prosecuted. The charge against her was stayed and someone else pleaded guilty.
Justice Scott Brooker told the court a person is presumed innocent until convicted.
According to Reid’s version of events, she was in the parking lot of the Watson Lake apartment building on her way home. She said Nehass called to her from the door. When she went over he grabbed her and dragged her up the stairs and into an apartment and attacked her, threatening her family. He had no shirt or shoes, she said.
Since Nehass didn’t have shoes, Reid would have had the upper hand, the lawyer suggested, but she didn’t try to get away.
Reid replied that she doesn’t know if she tried to pull back, that she was stunned and could not get away.
Vaze asked why Reid didn’t scream or call for help as she was dragged through the building.
The court heard from two people who were allegedly in the building that night three years ago. Neither remember an altercation.
The jury has heard there were no complaints about noise in the building filed with the police that night. On top of that, no weapon was ever found.
Reid said that she asked several people inside the apartment to call the RCMP, but no one did.
Vaze said it is “simply unbelievable” that after the attack she described, she would not have been more badly hurt.
Photos from that day show red marks on Reid’s neck but no other injuries.
Reid testified after she was attacked, she went back to her house about two minutes away.
Her then-common law spouse, Lyle Gilmore, testified that she was “balling her eyes out,” “shaking uncontrollably” and had “peed her pants.” He said she was “scared of someone coming through the door.”
She hadn’t been drinking or doing drugs, he said.
During Reid’s cross examination Vaze questioned why, if she was so afraid, she would wait hours to call the police.
Reid originally testified that she waited for her son-in-law to come back from Fort Nelson, about four or five hours away, so that he could take her granddaughter.
She was frightened because Nehass had threatened her family, she said.
Under cross examination Reid was less clear about how long she waited. She said she couldn’t be sure where her son-in-law was coming from.
Vaze was again skeptical. According to her testimony, Nehass was in the apartment building only two minutes away.
Vaze wondered why she didn’t take her granddaughter and go directly to the police detachment.
She said she didn’t want to have to explain what was going on to the young girl.
With the lead RCMP investigator on the stand Thursday, both Vaze and Nehass questioned the way the police handled the investigation.
Const. Patrick McRorie admitted that the alleged crime scene was not searched and no photos were taken.
After taking Reid’s statement and photos of red marks on her neck, no other statements were taken that day.
While police heard about the attack on Dec. 21, it wasn’t until early January that police took a statement from a woman Reid said was in the apartment at the time of the attack.
The statement from Gilmore was not taken until May 2013.
“All of those things would have been helpful for a complete and comprehensive investigation, correct?” Vaze asked.
“Correct,” the officer replied.
Testimony continues today. Justice Brooker has told the jury they will wrap up the day early ahead of the long weekend.
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