Jury to decide if Rodrigue testimony checks out

In deliberations, a jury will decide whether Karen Rodrigue stabbed Gerald Dawson out of mental anguish after being raped, or if other factors were…

In deliberations, a jury will decide whether Karen Rodrigue stabbed Gerald Dawson out of mental anguish after being raped, or if other factors were at play.

The result will determine whether Rodrigue is charged with manslaughter or second-degree murder.

Dawson had raped her and then ridiculed her; calling her a “crack whore” and saying that “nobody would believe her story,” Rodrigue testified on Tuesday.

Rodrigue responded by stabbing Dawson twice in the back, but said she didn’t mean to hurt him.

“Her mind was enraged by his characterization that she was discardable,” said defence lawyer Richard Fowler.

“The moment she stabbed Mr. Dawson, imagine that moment … she was engulfed by emotions that we cannot imagine,” he told the jury.

“She reacted in the heat of the moment while intoxicated by drugs and alcohol,” he said.

However, all of the evidence regarding Rodrigue’s intoxication and the alleged rape comes from Rodrigue, said Crown lawyer David McWhinnie.

“There were two people in that house that night, and only one of them can speak to you today,” said McWhinnie.

“The most important evidence is that Mr. Dawson was found naked and with Viagra in his bloodstream,” said Fowler.

“It was a very hot evening. For someone to be scantily clad in his own house is not unordinary,” said McWhinnie.

Viagra in his bloodstream also did not indicate that Dawson had raped, or even had sex with Rodrigue that night, said McWhinnie.

McWhinnie disputed that Rodrigue could have been consumed by instant rage. Her argument with Dawson had gradually escalated, and she only chose to stab him after he failed to elicit responses she sought, he said.

“It’s not as if he walked up to her on the street, called her the alleged insults and caused her to lash out at him,” said McWhinnie.

Several holes had cropped up in the course of Rodrigue’s testimony, said McWhinnie.

“Did she appear, in cross-examination, to be trying to remember or did she seem to be trying to conceal?” he asked the jury.

The absence of beer cans was probably the most significant bit of evidence, said McWhinnie.

Rodrigue testified that she drank two or three cans of beer on the night of Dawson’s death, and had left the empty cans “around.”

However, in crime scene photographs, no beer cans were to be seen.

“There’s a couple of possibilities; she never drank any beer at all or that it did happen and she took those cans away,” said McWhinnie.

“We don’t know, but we do know that her evidence doesn’t fit with either explanation,” he said.

Much scrutiny was paid to Rodrigue’s attempts, following the stabbing, to change the scene and conceal evidence — including disposing of the knife that killed Dawson.

“How can you blame her, at that moment, for trying to cover her tracks?” said Fowler.

“She had just been told, ‘Nobody’s going to believe you,’” he added.

Her “feeble” attempts to clean up the evidence only highlight the “disorganized state” of her mind at the time of Dawson’s stabbing, said Fowler.

Police found nine separate areas of visible blood, as well as cigarettes butts and a note on the door written in Rodrigue’s own handwriting, noted Fowler.

“If she was really trying to conceal her involvement, would she have stolen Dawson’s car, returned to the scene, stolen two saws, pawned them and returned again to steal a second car?” he said.

Her attempted cover-up seemed “to suggest (Rodrigue) had some capacity for rational thought,” countered McWhinnie.

After hiding Dawson’s body, cleaning up the blood and removing bloody socks and a knife from the scene, Rodrigue drove directly home and told her partner that Dawson was “on vacation,” said McWhinnie.

“She didn’t just wander around aimlessly afterwards,” said McWhinnie.

During his Tuesday cross-examination of Rodrigue, McWhinnie suggested the pair had shared a “mutually exploitative relationship” with exchanges of sex and money being a regular facet of Rodrigue and Dawson’s relationship.

“You haven’t heard a single shred of evidence that supports this tasteless theory,” said Fowler.

Two younger female friends of Dawson had testified that they had received loans and assistance from him in a manner similar to Rodrigue. However, neither described having a sexual relationship with Dawson.

Contact Tristin Hopper at tristinh@yukon-news.com