Darryl Sheepway, seen in this 2012 file photo, will hear the verdict in his murder trial Jan. 30. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)

Verdict expected Tuesday in Darryl Sheepway murder trial

Whitehorse man charged with first-degree murder in the 2015 slaying of Christopher Brisson

A verdict is expected tomorrow in the Darryl Sheepway murder trial, about a month and a half after the Crown and defence rested their cases.

Sheepway was charged with first-degree murder in relation to the 2015 slaying of Christopher Brisson, a 25-year-old Whitehorse drug dealer who had been selling crack cocaine to Sheepway in the month leading up to his death.

The case has been a legal oddity in that both the Crown and defence are in agreement that Sheepway fatally shot Brisson on Aug. 28, 2015, after luring him to a remote Whitehorse road under the guise of buying more drugs. So many details were agreed to, in fact, that no jury was brought in for the four-week-long trial, an unusual move when it comes to a charge as serious as first-degree murder.

Instead, the case lies solely in the hands of Yukon Supreme Court Justice Leigh Gower, whose verdict will hinge on whether he accepts the defence or Crown’s argument about what Sheepway’s intent was leading up to him shooting Brisson.

Sheepway’s defence team, made up of lawyers Lynn McDiarmid and Vincent Larochelle, argued during the trial that Sheepway was in the throes of cocaine withdrawal and in a “hyper-reactive state” when he shot Brisson. He may have fired the fatal shot, they argued, but killing Brisson was never Sheepway’s plan — he just wanted to rob him.

“Mr. Sheepway is a killer, your Honour, but he is not a murderer,” Larochelle said in the defence’s closing submissions.

Sheepway is not guilty of murder, the defence said, but the lesser charge of manslaughter.

The Crown, meanwhile, argued that although Sheepway had a serious addiction to crack cocaine, he showed clear, linear thinking in the hours before, during and after killing Brisson, acting methodically and with foresight of his actions. That he brought a shotgun to the meeting, Crown attorney Jennifer Grandy said, already shows intent — Sheepway clearly knew the weapon could produce deadly results.

The defence’s version of events, Grandy said, is “too much of a stretch” to be believed.

Other than Sheepway, there were no other eyewitnesses to the killing. Both the Crown and defence leaned heavily on forensics experts to bolster their cases.

Gower is expected to deliver his verdict at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The News’ coverage of the trial can be found here:

Darryl Sheepway’s first-degree murder trial begins in Whitehorse

First degree-murder trial in death of Christopher Brisson continues in Whitehorse

Darryl Sheepway murder trial hears from firearm and bloodstains experts

Sheepway had ‘abnormal’ mindset when shooting Chris Brisson, psychiatrist tells court

On stand, Sheepway details crack addiction, aftermath of shooting

Closing arguments underway in Darryl Sheepway murder trial

Darryl Sheepway murder trial comes to a close with Crown submissions

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

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