Darryl Sheepway, pictured during a skijoring race in 2012, took the stand Nov. 22 to testify on his own behalf against the charge of first-degree murder of his drug dealer Christopher Brisson. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)

Darryl Sheepway takes the stand in first-degree murder trial

‘He was leaving, I wanted to stop him’

Darryl Sheepway testified the gun he brought with him when he tried to rob his drug dealer was not intended for murder.

On the stand testifying in his own defence Nov. 22, Sheepway said he brought the shotgun to rob Christopher Brisson and then later kill himself.

Instead it was Brisson who died that night in August 2015. Sheepway is on trial accused of first-degree murder.

At issue is not whether Sheepway killed Brisson. He has already offered to plead guilty to manslaughter, an offer rejected by the Crown.

On the stand Sheepway described a rapidly growing addiction to crack cocaine that lead to him spending up to $500 per day on the drug he got from Brisson.

Sheepway said he first tried the drug in May or June 2015.

“I thought it was the greatest feeling I’ve had in my life. Period,” he told the court.

In July he got Brisson’s phone number and Brisson would meet with him “pretty much daily” to deal drugs, he said.

On Aug. 28, the day Brisson died, Sheepway said his wife had taken his credit cards and ID after becoming suspicious of money that had gone missing.

Sheepway said he felt “humiliated” and started thinking that his family would be better off without him.

He said he wanted to end his life but needed more drugs first. “I thought I had the most courage when I was high,” he said.

The plan was to get high, run away and kill himself.

But he had no money. Sheepway testified that he had called Brisson for the first time that day and begged him for drugs.

Brisson gave him less than half a gram and the two agreed to meet when Sheepway was able to pay.

That’s how they ended up sitting side-by-side in trucks with the drivers’ side windows facing each other. Sheepway still didn’t have any money.

“I thought I’d just try and rob him, I wanted more drugs.”

After pointing the gun at Brisson with his finger on the trigger, Sheepway said he just expected Brisson to hand over whatever drugs he had and drive away. When instead Brisson grabbed the shotgun, Sheepway said he “panicked.”

The weapon went off twice in the struggle.

When Sheepway regained control of the gun, Brisson’s truck began to roll forward. That’s when, Sheepway testified, he leaned out of his truck and shot a third time.

Sheepway said he doesn’t remember thinking anything specific when he pulled the trigger the third time. “He was leaving, I wanted to stop him.”

He said he shot at the back of the truck.

“I don’t remember thinking why I did it.”

The whole interaction took “less than five seconds” he said.

After the third shot Brisson’s truck went into reverse and rolled off the road.

Sheepway approached the lifeless body laying on the ground near the truck. He took drugs and about $2,000 from Brisson’s pockets and drove home in a panic doing drugs along the way, he said.

Sheepway admitted to going back to the scene later to pick up the spent shotgun shells, find more drugs and dump Brisson’s body near Miles Canyon.

After seeing Brisson dead, Sheepway testified he was no longer feeling suicidal.

He told the court his mental health has been deteriorating while at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre.

He said he’s been kept in “what I would consider segregation” for 17 months and has only been out of his cell for an average of three to four hours a day.

That time out of his cell involves having access to a larger room where he is only allowed to interact with one other inmate, he said.

Sheepway said he doesn’t have access to the same basic privileges that other inmates at the jail do. There’s no programming, no hot water and no workout equipment, he said.

He does meet periodically with a psychiatrist and a psychologist.

Under cross examination from Crown prosecutor Jennifer Grandy, Sheepway admitted that when he was high he believed he was able to convince people around him that he was sober.

He had no issues driving, getting into town or caring for his dogs, he said.

Grandy pointed out that in order for the weapon to have gone off twice during the struggle, Sheepway would have had to cock it.

Grandy also questioned Sheepway’s insistence that he had no intention of using the gun when he showed up to the drug deal.

“Is that really true?” she said. “You had to know that you might have to use it.”

“No, that’s really true,” Sheepway replied.

Grandy pressed Sheepway on whether he in fact fired four shots that day, not three.

Sheepway insisted that there were only three shots.

While answering questions from Yukon Supreme Court Justice Leigh Gower, Sheepway repeatedly insisted that he only fired once into the back of Brisson’s truck.

An expert witness earlier in the trial testified that there were trajectories for two objects almost certainly the path of two shotgun slugs that moved from the back of the truck to the front.

Sheepway said he questioned whether one of the trajectories was from a bullet at all.

The trial is expected to continue today.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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