‘In a panic” after fatally stabbing Gerald Dawson, Karen Rodrigue had “no idea” why she took alleged measures to hide the killing, she testified in Yukon Supreme Court on Tuesday.
The jury now must decide whether Rodrigue is responsible for murder or manslaughter, said Richard Fowler, her principal defence lawyer.
“It comes down to a different state of mind,” he said.
The jury will hear “how Gerald Dawson, a friend of Karen Rodrigue, raped her, humiliated her and told her nobody would believe her story because she was a crack whore,” said Fowler.
Rodrigue’s testimony stretched over a day and a half of the proceedings.
At the time of Dawson’s death, Rodrigue said she considered him “a friend.”
When she separated from her husband, Jimmy, Dawson helped her move.
Dawson often gave Rodrigue and other younger women small loans.
On bingo nights when Rodrigue was short of cash, Dawson would “stake” her in. The only condition was that she would split the winnings with him if she won.
In 2003, Rodrigue borrowed Dawson’s pickup truck and totalled it in an accident with a camper.
“At the time I thought he would be really upset, but he was more concerned about me and my daughters rather than the truck,” said Rodrigue.
“He never brought the situation up again,” she said.
On June 16th, 2004, after a long day of drinking and cocaine use with partner Danny McGinnis, Rodrigue phoned Dawson from the 202 Motor Inn and asked to borrow money for beer and tobacco.
Dawson picked her up around midnight, but they arrived at the offsales immediately after it had closed. So Rodrigue accepted Dawson’s offer to pick up some beer he had at his house.
There, Rodrigue had a beer, a cigarette and some of Dawson’s marijuana before asking him for a ride home.
He refused since he had already gone to bed, said Rodrigue.
“He said, ‘I guess you’re going to walk,’” she said.
After another beer and another cigarette, Rodrigue suggested she take a one- to two-hour nap on a cot after which he could drive her home, she said.
She woke up to Dawson tugging on her arm and asking her to “come lay with me,” she said.
When she repeatedly refused, Dawson grabbed Rodrigue by both arms, threw her on the bed and started raping her, she said.
Afterwards, Rodrigue got up, grabbed a beer from the fridge, and began screaming at Dawson, she said.
“What the fuck is wrong with you? You realize you just fucking raped me? I could report this,” she said.
“The RCMP isn’t going to believe you, you’re just a crack whore, you deserved it,” said Dawson, according to Rodrigue’s testimony.
“You can’t get everything for free,” she said he had told her.
After further arguments, in which Rodrigue testified that Dawson was snickering and treating it “like a joke,” Rodrigue lunged at Dawson while his back was turned and stabbed him twice around the shoulders.
Rodrigue testified she could only remember Dawson saying, “What are you trying to do, kill me?”
“I didn’t know what I was trying to do, but I wasn’t trying to kill him,” she said.
After the stabbing, Rodrigue failed to administer first aid — for which she had training — and failed to call 911 from either of Dawson’s two phones, noted Crown prosecutor David McWhinnie during his cross-examination.
Dawson might have been saved by “invasive medical treatment” if he had made it to hospital in time, testified Laurel Grey, the forensic pathologist who performed Dawson’s autopsy, on Monday morning.
Also, there was Viagra in Dawson’s bloodstream, said Grey.
Dawson’s bruises could have been inflicted by a person whom he was “on top of,” said Grey, responding to a question from the defence.
This week, McWhinnie also referred to Rodrigue’s 2005 testimony, in which she elaborated more clearly on the details of the stabbing, including that the first stab had “felt” like it would be fatal.
After seeing Dawson crumpled and motionless on the floor, with a pool of blood forming steadily around his shoulders, Rodrigue said she “panicked.”
She dragged his body into the bedroom, threw a sheet over him, mopped up the blood and threw the bloody knife, along with her now-bloodstained socks, into a bag, she said.
She padlocked the front door, and left a note, as if written by Dawson, explaining that he had gone to BC for two weeks.
Then Rodrigue loaded up one of Dawson’s cars with some beer, his .22 rifle and the bag with the bloody socks and knife, and drove home.
While she was panicked, Rodrigue still managed to do a number of things that could be seen as “hiding her involvement” with the killing,” said McWhinnie during his cross-examination.
“You moved the body, you wiped away the blood, you took away the knife and bloody socks — what you did was change the scene,” said McWhinnie.
“Yes I did, but I don’t know why,” she replied.
“I honestly don’t know why I did all these things,” she said later.
Also, while Rodrigue had testified she was “yelling” at Dawson after the rape, during the 2005 proceedings she testified she hadn’t made a sound as she crossed the kitchen with the knife before stabbing him in the back, noted McWhinnie.
“He didn’t hear you coming, did he?” asked McWhinnie.
“I don’t know,” she replied.
McWhinnie asked Rodrigue what she would have done with the multiple empty cans of beer that she consumed.
After she replied that she had probably “left them around,” McWhinnie indicated that, in all the crime scene photographs, no beer cans could be seen.
Being covered in fingerprints, could it be possible that they were purposely removed? asked McWhinnie.
“I don’t know,” replied Rodrigue.
Driving home from Dawson’s house, Rodrigue stopped at Raven Recycling to discard the bag of socks and the knife.
When she arrived home, McGinnis noticed that she was intoxicated and “rough-looking.”
“She told me (Dawson) was on holidays and she was allowed to use his car,” said McGinnis, after he asked her why she had Dawson’s car.
For the 10 days following Dawson’s death until Rodrigue’s arrest, she and McGinnis lapsed into a particularly “bad” binge of drugs and alcohol.
“Danny and I were using a lot of coke and drinking lots … I was getting fed up with the whole situation and I didn’t know what to do,” testified Rodrigue.
Rodrigue became “more and more” irritable as their drug binge wore on, testified McGinnis.
At one point, Rodrigue, McGinnis and McGinnis’ friend Mike drove to Dawson’s house and retrieved two saws from his shed that were sold for money to buy booze and cocaine.
Later, Rodrigue and McGinnis were involved in a car accident near the Whitehorse police station. No information was exchanged with the driver, and the pair fled the scene after promising that they were simply leaving to pick up Rodrigue’s driver’s licence. Waiting until it was dark, the couple took the damaged grey car to Dawson’s and switched it for his blue car.
In the second car, they discovered Dawson’s gas card and used it to buy jerry cans full of gas, which were then sold for “more beer,” said Rodrigue.
“I put it to you that your relationship (with Dawson) was mutually exploitative; he got sex from you and you got money from him,” said McWhinnie.
“I never consented to sex with Gerald,” replied Rodrigue.
Asked whether she had ever been previously propositioned for sex by Dawson, Rodrigue said she didn’t recall.
The jury is expected to begin deliberations on Thursday.
Contact Tristin Hopper at firstname.lastname@example.org