Soldier playing a game when shot from pistol kills comrade, court martial told

A Canadian soldier charged with fatally shooting a fellow reservist in Afghanistan was playing a game with a loaded weapon when the firearm went off and killed his comrade, the lead prosecutor in a court martial told a military panel Thursday.

Cpl. Matthew Wilcox of Glace Bay

Cpl. Matthew Wilcox of Glace Bay

SYDNEY, N.S. — A Canadian soldier charged with fatally shooting a fellow reservist in Afghanistan was playing a game with a loaded weapon when the firearm went off and killed his comrade, the lead prosecutor in a court martial told a military panel Thursday.

Lt.-Cmdr. Robert Fetterley made the assertion in his opening statement to the panel hearing the case of Cpl. Matthew Wilcox of Glace Bay, N.S., who has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter, criminal negligence causing death and negligently performing his military duty.

“He failed in his duty to make his weapons safe,” Fetterley told the court, set up in a cafeteria at the Victoria Park Garrison in Sydney.

It was the first time details of the prosecution’s case have emerged in the makeshift military courtroom.

Fetterley said the prosecution will show Wilcox did not follow proper safety procedures when he carried a loaded 9-millimetre handgun into a tent he shared with Cpl. Kevin Megeney of Stellarton, N.S.

Megeney was killed by a single shot to the chest at the NATO base in Kandahar on March 6, 2007.

Fetterley said the evidence will show Wilcox had loaded the weapon with a magazine, when the safety catch was not engaged, before the weapon went off “while playing a game in a tent.”

The prosecutor said he intends to prove “the death was caused by the accused and that he did this by the unlawful act of being careless with his 9-mm service pistol.”

The first witness at the court martial testified that Wilcox told him later in a conversation between them in Sydney in November or December 2007 that he was playing a game called quick draw when Megeney was shot.

Master Cpl. Kyle Keigan said the conversation took place either at the garrison in Sydney or at Wilcox’s home over drinks.

Keigan said he asked what happened and Wilcox told him “they began to play quick draw in the tent. His weapon went off. He didn’t know it was loaded at the time.”

Fetterley told the panel that the shooting occurred after Wilcox and members of his platoon finished a 12-hour shift at a guard post known as Entry Point 3.

Wilcox and Megeney were unloading their gear and were the only two people inside their tent when the shot rang out.

The military prosecutor said all soldiers within the sprawling NATO base are required to unload their weapons into ammunition barrels once they are off duty.

He described this act as a “basic military skill.”

Fetterley also noted that while soldiers are required to carry an unloaded firearm when they are off duty, the weapon’s magazine — the container that holds the bullets — must be removed.

Without the magazine, the 9-mm Browning handgun will not fire, even if there is a round in the chamber, Fetterley said.

He said the prosecution will build a circumstantial case that will prove Wilcox, 23, was the one who fired the weapon, much of the evidence based on comments made by Wilcox himself and witnesses at the scene of the shooting.

Wilcox’s own words will be used to show that he had made an “admission that he was careless with his handgun.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Patient information breach at Red Deer hospital

3,224 patients had their electronic health records accessed improperly

An Air Canada Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet arrives at Halifax Stanfield International Airport on Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Air Canada agrees to $5.9-billion aid package, giving Ottawa equity stake in airline

$1.4 billion earmarked to help reimburse thousands of customers

Innisfail RCMP say Brandon Pitts is missing. (Photo contributed)
Missing central Alberta man

Innisfail RCMP request public’s help

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with Yukon Premier Sandy Silver as Liberal on Wednesday February 8, 2017 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Yukon headed for minority government as two main parties in a tie

Liberals came into the election looking to build on their surprise 2016 majority win

Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan takes part in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press at National Defence headquarters in Ottawa on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020. Sajjan took aim at recent Chinese military expansions into the South China Sea this evening even as he faced questions about the Liberal government’s ties to Beijing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Sajjan targets Chinese claims in South China Sea, battles Tories over Beijing ties

HMCS Calgary shadowed for at least part of the voyage as it passed near the disputed Spratly Islands

Hindu devotees wearing face masks as a precautionary measure against the coronavirus stand in a queue to offer prayers inside a temple dedicated to goddess Kali in Jammu, India, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. New infections have surged in the past month and India has now reported over 13.6 million cases — pushing its toll past Brazil, and making it second only to the United States. In the past 24 hours, over 160,000 new infections have been detected and experts fear that the worst is yet to come. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)
Johnson & Johnson delays shot rollout in Europe

BERLIN — Johnson & Johnson says it is delaying the rollout of… Continue reading

Restaurant workers and restaurant delivery workers wait in line to sign up for Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccine site, Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in the Sunset Park neighborhood of New York. The mobile vaccination effort includes two buses equipped with four to six vaccinators each, delivering the COVID-19 vaccine directly to communities most in need. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
US recommends ‘pause’ for J&J vaccine over clot reports

WASHINGTON — The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in using the single-dose… Continue reading

FILE-Team Canada’s Meaghan Mikkelson fights for control of the puck with U.S.A.’s Hayley Scamurra during third period of Women’s Rivalry Series hockey action in Vancouver, Wednesday, February 5, 2020. Gina Kingsbury, Hockey Canada’s director of women’s national teams, hopes a Rivalry Series against the United States can happen this winter.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michael Dwyer
Canadian women’s hockey team to open selection camp in Nova Scotia

Six goaltenders, 15 defenders and 26 forwards will vie for spots on Canada’s 23-player roster

FILE - Rhian Wilkinson, left, and Melissa Tancredi of Canada’s women’s soccer team attend a news conference in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 to announce their retirement from the team. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Former Canadian international Rhian Wilkinson now part of England coaching setup

Wilkinson left Canada Soccer in January to join interim England head coach Hege Riise as an assistant

Canadian actor/producer/director Jay Baruchel is photographed at the 5 Drive-In Theatre in Oakville, Ont., ahead of the premier of Baruchel’s movie Random Acts of Violence, Wednesday, July 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
Jay Baruchel to host Amazon Prime Video’s ‘LOL: Last One Laughing Canada’

Final comedian left standing wins a grand prize for a charity of their choice

Letters
Letter: Leaders like MLA Jason Stephan should work towards greater good

Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan talks about the devastating social and… Continue reading

Opinion
Opinion: Women, hit hardest by pandemic, key to economic recovery

Events of the past year have laid bare the many disparities and… Continue reading

Most Read