The Crown in Darryl Sheepway’s first-degree murder trial presented its closing submissions Dec. 8, bringing the four-week-long trial to a close.
Addressing Yukon Supreme Court Justice Leigh Gower, Crown attorney Jennifer Grandy said there are three options before the court — convicting Sheepway of first-degree murder, second-degree murder or manslaughter for killing 25-year-old Christopher Brisson on a road near Whitehorse in 2015.
And there’s a strong case for a murder conviction, Grandy argued.
At issue is not whether Sheepway killed Brisson — he’d previously offered to plead guilty to manslaughter — but whether Sheepway intended to kill him.
On Aug. 28, 2015, Sheepway left home with a loaded shotgun, without any money and with the intent to obtain crack cocaine, Grandy said, luring Brisson out to a remote location under the guise of buying more drugs and, following a struggle over his shotgun, then shooting him in the back. The very nature of Sheepway bringing a shotgun he knew how to use indicates a “foresight of death,” she said — a shotgun, and in particular, one that shoots 12-gauge slugs, serves no other purpose than to kill.
The physical evidence and testimony from experts throughout the trial also backs up the Crown’s theory of what occurred that day, Grandy said, and reviewed the key points. According to the ballistics expert, there’s definitive evidence of three shots being fired, with one of them blowing out the passenger side window and two of them entering through the back window of Brisson’s truck.
There’s evidence that one of those shots went through the driver’s headrest and into Brisson’s shoulder, ultimately lodging in his lower right jaw and killing him, Grandy continued, and no other evidence nor any reasonable conclusions to where that slug ended up other than in Brisson.
Countering the defence’s assertion that Sheepway had been a reliable, credible witness, Grandy said that, in fact, it’s “unsafe” to rely on any part of Sheepway’s testimony that wasn’t corroborated by either testimony from experts or physical evidence. He lied multiple times to the police, his wife and Brisson, she said, and, at one point, admitted to only providing information as he sees fit.
Even if the court were to believe that Sheepway left home that day without a plan to kill Brisson, Grandy said, the fact that he fired shots at the back of Brisson’s truck as Brisson was driving away shows deliberation in his actions, leaving the door open for a second-degree murder conviction.
Sheepway’s actions before, during and after the shooting show clear, linear thinking, she said, and there was no discernible manifestation of a “hyper-reactive state” where Sheepway was acting without being able to foresee the consequences, as the defence has claimed, or cocaine intoxication.
Grandy added that the Crown doesn’t take issue with the fact that Sheepway’s addiction to crack cocaine was at the root of the incident, but that his addiction and his going through withdrawal doesn’t mean that his actions that caused Brisson’s death were unintended.
Questioned by Gower about what she made of the defence’s theory of what transpired that day — that Brisson had been fatally shot when the men were struggling over the shotgun, and that one of the two objects entering the truck from behind was, in fact, a branch — Grandy described it as “almost fanciful.”
“It just requires so much speculation in the face of what I would submit is a thorough forensic investigation,” she said.
“It’s too much of a stretch.”
Gower is expected to deliver his verdict Jan. 30, 2018.
Contact Jackie Hong at firstname.lastname@example.org