Three years after a Yukon jury pronounced Karen Rodrigue guilty of the second-degree murder of Gerald Dawson, a new trial is once again combing over old ground in the 2004 stabbing murder.
An appeal was granted in July 2007, on the grounds that the judge did not adequately instruct the jury on how to consider Rodrigue’s conduct after the stabbing, and how to interpret evidence that speaks to Dawson’s good character and Rodrigue’s bad character.
At Rodrigue’s first trial in 2005, she argued she had been raped by Dawson before she killed him. The pair had never had any sexual contact before the assault, said Rodrigue at the 2005 trial.
“I feel terrible, because Gerald was a friend of mine,” she told the court.
“But it’s not rightful what he did, and it’s not rightful what I did. I’m just really sorry. I ask for forgiveness everyday.”
After stabbing him in the back, Rodrigue said that she had panicked, hidden Dawson’s body under a sheet, taken Dawson’s rifle and some beers, and pinned a note on the front door saying, “back in two wks.”
A bad smell emanating from the house finally prompted friend James Wood to break into the house and discover Dawson’s body — 10 days after he had died.
In the 10-day period between Dawson’s murder and Rodrigue’s arrest, she and partner Dan McGinnis made use of Dawson’s two cars and pawned two of his chainsaws to fund an extended cocaine binge.
Dawson’s Petro Canada lock card was also used five times following his death.
McGinnis was later found with keys to Dawson’s house on his keychain.
In court statements, Rodrigue’s ex-husband recalled buying gas with the couple to be sold for drug money.
Dawson never raped Rodrigue, said Crown council David McWhinnie in his closing statements in the 2005 trial.
“She killed him because he wouldn’t give her what she wanted,” he said.
On Thursday, Brian Edmonds, a Whitehorse RCMP constable at the time of the murder, presented a detailed rundown of the contents of Dawson’s medicine cabinet. Included were a large number of prescription Tylenol 3 and Tylenol 4 pills that it is alleged Dawson sold illicitly for profit.
A Viagra package with a missing pill was also highlighted.
An autopsy determined Dawson had Viagra in his bloodstream at the time of his death.
Dawson befriended and lent money to a number of young female addicts in Whitehorse, two of whom testified on Thursday and confirmed that their relationship with Dawson had been purely platonic.
Sheila Scheper described having regular meetings with Dawson, who would often drive Scheper to the grocery store for groceries and diapers. Scheper had owed Dawson almost $1,000 at the time of his death, she estimated.
Scheper remembered coming to visit Dawson in the “week after father’s day” — Dawson was killed two days before father’s day — and seeing the note pinned on the door.
She also saw Rodrigue going through Dawson’s shed — something she didn’t see as strange because Rodrigue was usually at the house. As well, she began seeing Rodrigue driving around town in Dawson’s blue Chevy Lumina.
Another friend of Dawson testified on Thursday that she remembered visiting with Rodrigue and McGinnis, also in the week after Father’s Day. The couple had arrived in Dawson’s blue Chevy Lumina and began to smoke crack cocaine and drink alcoholic ciders.
When Rodrigue was asked where Dawson had gone, she replied that he had “gone south for a funeral.”
Rodrigue was also more “quiet than usual” noted the witness, and was nervously pacing the house.
The trial continues next week.
Contact Tristin Hopper at firstname.lastname@example.org