The verdict will be given on Thursday for a young woman accused of taking part in a home invasion that terrified the occupants of a rural home.
Sylvan Lake resident Ashley Dawn Chambers, 24, was tried in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench on Tuesday in connection with her involvement in an incident at the home of Sylvan Lake business owner Randy Safronovich and his partner, Rita Haynes, on June 3, 2013.
Questioned by Crown prosecutor Maurice Collard and cross-examined by defence counsel Kevin Schollie, Safronovich, 54, said he and Haynes were relaxing after supper at about 9 p.m. when they saw a one-ton truck come up the driveway and park near their house.
Safronovich testified that it was not unusual for customers of his storage business to come up after hours to settle their accounts, so he opened the door, spoke briefly with the young man who approached the house and then invited him in.
Once inside, the man said he had been offered $20,000, with half the cash up front, to come to the house and break Safronovich’s hands, arms and legs as a reminder of an outstanding debt.
He then said Safronovich could buy his way out of the beating for $20,000.
Safronovich said the situation went out of control when the man noticed that he had his smart phone in his hand and had been recording the conversation.
“As soon as he noticed that I was recording, he whipped up his shirt and pulled out a handgun, putting it six inches away from my head and pulled the trigger.”
The gun misfired.
Safronovich and Haynes testified that in the ensuing moments, a young woman came into the house and was given the gun, along with an order to shoot them if they moved.
The man took the gun back when Safronovich offered to accompany him upstairs to open his safe.
With a gun in his back and unable to open the safe, Safronovich offered a box of jewelry instead. Safronovich said the couple fled the residence with the jewelry box and a puzzle ring worth $10,000, and between $1,500 and $2,000 in cash that he offered to the man before his companion entered the house.
Chambers testified that she met the young man a few days earlier and they were on their way to Sylvan Lake from Drayton Valley.
She said she was high on gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), known as the date-rape drug because of its effects on unwitting users, including memory loss.
Chambers said she was unfamiliar with the drug, but had taken it voluntarily and that her companion awoke her when he pulled his truck into the yard.
She said she was unaware of his intentions at the house.
Questioned by Collard, she confirmed that she had held a gun and that it was pointed in the direction of two people cowering on the floor of their own home, knowing that guns are dangerous and that people are afraid of them.
Justice Donald Lee will announce on Thursday his findings on charges against Chambers, including robbery with a firearm, unlawful confinement, unlawful use of a firearm, pointing a firearm and unauthorized possession of a loaded, restricted weapon.
She was found not guilty on three charges of breaching a recognizance because the Crown did not produce evidence on those.
Also facing numerous charges in connection with the incident, suspect Andrew Waunch, 31, of no fixed address, is scheduled for trial on 37 charges by judge alone in the Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench, starting Oct. 15, 2015.
Both suspects remain in custody pending the outcome of their trials.