Defence targets witnesses in case of teen charged with shooting German tourist

CALGARY — The Crown says it has proven its case against a teen charged with shooting a German tourist near Calgary last summer, but the defence says none of the prosecution’s witnesses have credibility.

The youth from the Stoney Nakoda First Nation, who cannot be identified because he was 16 at the time of the shooting, has pleaded not guilty to aggravated assault and recklessly discharging a firearm during an offence.

Provincial court Judge George Gaschler is to give his verdict on Oct. 18.

The trial heard that Horst Stewin was driving a black SUV on the First Nation’s land with his family when someone in a passing car shot him. His vehicle veered off the highway and crashed into some trees.

Stewin survived and was transported back to Germany, where doctors removed eight bullet fragments from his brain. He is paralyzed on his right side, gets confused and has memory issues.

“The court needs to look at all the evidence, weigh all the evidence, and then decide the evidence as a whole proves the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. And the Crown submits it does,” prosecutor Dane Rolfe said in his closing argument Wednesday.

“All the evidence supports the accused as the shooter.”

Three other people who were in the car the day of the shooting testified that the teen was the shooter, although they said they had not actually watched him pull the trigger.

Court heard the accused had been sitting behind the car’s driver. But the victim’s wife said a man in the car’s front passenger seat pointed a gun and shot her husband.

Defence lawyer Balfour Der argued that the Crown has failed to prove his client’s guilt.

“What happened in this case to Mr. Stewin is appalling. As a Canadian, I am offended. And if (Stewin) were here, I would apologize to him,” Der told the court.

But he said the three witnesses who were in the car with his client had ulterior motives to blame him for the shooting, since he would face a lesser penalty as a young offender. No one else has been charged in the case.

“The witnesses the prosecution depends on are not credible by any stretch of the imagination or in any interpretation of the law,” Der said.

“This desire to hold someone responsible for this serious crime is not a reason why the last man standing needs to be found guilty.”

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