You can see evidence again, but there’s only one chance to observe witnesses.
This is what Supreme Court Justice Leigh Gower told the 12-member jury when the murder trial for the death of Carcross hotelier Robert Olson began, three weeks ago.
Pay close attention to how witnesses’ say what they say and decide whether they seem honest, if their story seems reasonable and consistent, he told them.
“You should, most of all, ladies and gentleman, use your common sense,” said Gower.
But the jury won’t get the chance to observe of the two accused men on the stand.
Mark Lange is not testifying.
Lange and Dean Boucher, also known as Dean Johns, are on trial for second-degree murder in Robert Olson’s death.
The 64-year-old alcoholic hotelier died from head injuries after being brutally beaten on the floor of his saloon in the Caribou Hotel.
Boucher took the stand this week, but Lange will not follow suit.
Thursday morning Lange’s lawyer Andre Roothman told the court he will not take the stand or call witnesses in his defence.
Lange has not spoken once during the trial.
However, numerous taped police interviews were played in Yukon Supreme Court.
The two men’s stories vary widely.
In testimony this week, Boucher said he lied to police to protect Lange, his “little ninja buddy,” and to avoid being beaten up or killed for being a rat.
Olson had kicked Lange out of the bar after a conversation over the alleged sexual assault of Boucher’s common-law wife, said Boucher.
When he came back into the bar a short time later Lange got into an argument with Olson over his truck — a black pickup with a red stripe.
They wanted to borrow Olson’s truck to drive to Whitehorse on a cocaine run, said Boucher.
Olson categorically refused, eventually clocking Lange in the head with something wooden, Boucher told the court.
Then, “the fight was on.”
They wrestled around until Lange had Olson pinned to floor in a leg-hold and started kicking the bar-owner in the face, Boucher testified.
“(Lange) just went ninja on his ass.”
But when Lange arched backwards, threatening to break Olson’s arm, Boucher noticed blood in the man’s mouth and pulled his friend off of the hotelier.
Boucher has reiterated numerous times that the fight only occurred because Olson clubbed Lange in the head.
Lange’s version is entirely different.
The fight began after Olson refused to give Boucher some First Nations art off the wall, Lange told police.
Boucher came up behind Olson and kicked him in the head, knocking the bar owner to the floor. Delivering a few more blows, Boucher started robbing the place, said Lange.
There was a lot of blood.
“I was trying to get the blood out of his face,” said Lange in police interview.
“He was pretty ugly.”
But when he bent down to help Olson, he scratched Lange’s face. So, Lange kicked Olson away and punched him a few times, then went to the bar for another shot of liqueur.
When Olson struggled up on all fours, Boucher came back over and “football kicked” him in the head, said Lange.
Olson didn’t move again, he added.
Both Boucher and Lange say they put Olson on his side, so the blood would drain and clear his air passage.
In police interviews, Lange said he knew Olson was dead when the two men pulled off the highway between Carcross and Whitehorse, to check on him in the back of his own truck.
“My dad’s a trapper,” said Lange.
“I trapped with him. I just know when someone’s dead.”
Once they got back into the truck Boucher urged Lange to “fucking step on it — we can make it to the hospital,” he said.
But they never made it.
It wasn’t until Boucher was staring down at Olson’s remains, lying in the snowy ditch, that he fully understood what had happened that night.
“I’m realizing what I’m seeing here,” he told the court.
“When I said the devil made me do it, this is what I mean,” he said about leaving the body to be scavenged in the ditch.
When he looked up, Lange was pacing with his arms, flat and straight, talking to himself and laughing, he said.
“It’s like there’s a fucking demon inside of him,” said Boucher.
So, Boucher fired up the truck and started driving away, he said.
Lange jumped into the moving truck, said Boucher.
A short time later, both men agree, Olson’s truck got stuck in the snow.
They both said they ran into the bush, in a nightmarish state, in the early morning hours of Christmas Eve 2004, each crying and terrified of the other.
Eventually they found their way to the highway, walking from Wolf Creek to McCrae and took a cab into the city.
After hiding out for a few days, Boucher turned himself in to police on December 27. Lange also gave himself up on December 29.
The trial is coming to a close. No more evidence will be presented and all witnesses have testified.
Lawyers will make their closing statements Monday and Gower is expected to give the jury his final instructions Wednesday.
It will then be up to the 12 jurors to decide what happened between December 23 and 24, 2004 in the bar of the Caribou Hotel.
In the words of Boucher’s defence lawyer, Keith Parkkari it’s an old question of “who dunnit.”