A day or two after Darryl Sheepway pushed 25-year-old Christopher Brisson’s body down a hill at Miles Canyon, he took his wife and children to the nearby suspension bridge to take a family photo.
Those were among the details that emerged on the first day of Sheepway’s first-degree murder trial Nov. 6.
At issue is not whether Sheepway killed Brisson in August 2015 — Sheepway has previously acknowledged responsibility for Brisson’s death and offered to plead guilty to manslaughter, an offer rejected by the Crown. Sheepway’s lawyer, Lynn MacDiarmid, had told the court she would be retaining a psychiatrist to testify about Sheepway’s state of mind when he killed Brisson, during which he was high on crack cocaine.
Sheepway again pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder at the start of the trial Nov. 6, which is being presided over by Yukon Supreme Court Justice Leigh Gower.
In lieu of an opening statement, Crown prosecutor Leo Lane read from an agreed statement of facts, which states that, desperate for crack cocaine, Sheepway fatally shot Brisson on Aug. 28, 2015, after luring him out to McLean Lake Road under the guise of paying him back for and buying more drugs.
Sheepway, who returned to the scene to collect and dispose of Brisson’s body, would later tell his wife about killing Brisson in a distressed phone call from Prince George, B.C., and eventually confessed to Yukon RCMP, agreeing to lead them on a “re-enactment” of that day.
Police filmed the re-enactment on Oct. 4, 2016, during which Sheepway, riding in a van with several police officers, retraced the path he followed the day he killed Brisson.
The Crown played a portion of the video during the first half of the day Nov. 6, with RCMP officer John Gillis, who took part in the reenactment, taking the witness stand.
In the video, which appears to be shot from the back seat of a van, Sheepway is sitting next to Gillis, directing the officer driving the van where to go. The van is driving south down the Alaska Highway, and Sheepway says it would have been his first time in town that day and that he was going to meet Brisson after phoning him and asking him to “front” him for crack cocaine.
In the video, Sheepway says he was “freaking out” because he was out of drugs and money. He directs investigators to where he met Brisson and says Brisson gave him about $50 worth of crack. Sheepway says drove a short distance away, did some of the crack and began driving home when decided he wanted more.
Sheepway says he turned back and returned to Brisson’s place but didn’t see the dealer’s truck, so he went into a nearby office to phone him. The men agreed to meet at McLean Lake Road.
In the video, Sheepway says that on the drive there and as he was waiting for Brisson to arrive, he was only thinking about wanting more drugs and was contemplating either robbing Brisson or asking him to front him again.
As he shows investigators how his and Brisson’s trucks were located relative to each other, Sheepway says his heart was racing, and that he had a shotgun on his lap covered by a jacket. The trucks’ drivers’ sides were facing each other, and Sheepway says that as Brisson looked down, presumably to retrieve some crack, he pulled out his shotgun.
Sheepway says that Brisson grabbed the barrel of the shotgun and tried to pull it into his own truck, and a struggle ensued during which the gun accidentally went off twice, shattering Brisson’s truck’s windows.
Sheepway says he eventually got the gun back and Brisson drove away. As that happened, Sheepway says he leaned out his truck and fired the gun at the back of Brisson’s. Brisson’s truck suddenly reversed, went around a corner and disappeared from view, Sheepway says, and when he went to check what happened, he found it had crashed nose-first into the bush.
Nobody was in the truck, Sheepway says, and he reached in to turn it off. Sheepway tells investigators he found Brisson’s body sprawled face-up on the ground a few metres away, apparently dead. Sheepway says he searched Brisson’s body for crack cocaine and then drove home, stopping to do some of the crack along the way and thinking, “Oh my God, I just killed someone…. Holy fuck, I just killed somebody.”
After changing clothes, Sheepway says he went back to the scene to pick up the shotgun shells and retrieve Brisson’s body. He says he picked it up, finding a pool of blood underneath, and put it in his truck. Sheepway says his original plan was to dump Brisson’s body in a remote part of the Yukon River but traffic was heavy on the Alaska Highway that day and fearing someone would see the body, pulled off at Miles Canyon Road.
Sheepway says he pulled into the parking lot but found several vehicles already parked there and saw people walking along the river. Sheepway directs investigators further up the road to a small gravel pull-off, where he says he put down his truck’s tailgate and pushed Brisson’s body down the hill.
When asked if he’d been to Miles Canyon before, Sheepway says he hadn’t been often, but went back with his wife and children “a day or two” after dumping Brisson’s body to see anything appeared out of the ordinary.
In the video, Sheepway says nothing seemed to be going on. He took a photo on the Miles Canyon suspension bridge with his family and then left.
The trial continues.
Contact Jackie Hong at firstname.lastname@example.org