Dying from a stab wound outside a Red Deer home in March 2019, Joseph Gallant told his girlfriend “Q” was his attacker.
On Friday, Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Marilyn Slawinsky ruled that Gallant’s near-to-last words will be admissible in the second-degree murder trial of Quentin Strawberry, 39, that began last week.
Gallant, 45, twice identified Strawberry as his killer as his common-law partner Amanda Carter came to his aid after he was stabbed once in the chest just after midnight on March 29, 2019.
When Carter saw how badly injured Gallant was, she asked if he had been shot.
“No, he stabbed me. He f–king stabbed me,” said Gallant, who was bleeding heavily.
Carter asked, did “Q” stab him. “Yeah,” he replied.
Moments later, she had an almost identical conversation with Gallant, who once again said it was “Q” who stabbed him.
Gallant was taken to hospital where he died soon after.
Gallant and Strawberry knew each other. Strawberry and his girlfriend, Jennifer Lee Caswell, had lived with Gallant and Carter in their rented Grandview home on and off and were in the process of moving out.
Strawberry had been at the home earlier the day before and returned with Caswell and another man and woman shortly after midnight. Gallant and Strawberry were sorting through some of the large amount of stolen property stored in the home.
Shortly after arriving, Caswell attacked and badly beat Carter with what has been described as a large flashlight or a stun device. Caswell would be sentenced to eight months in prison for that assault.
Around the same time Gallant was stabbed once in the left chest, the knife piercing his lung. An autopsy indicated he died from blood loss.
Defence lawyer Maurice Collard argued that Carter’s hearsay evidence should not be admissible in the trial. Carter’s testimony is unreliable and allowing it would jeopardize the fairness of the trial, he argued.
Hearsay evidence — typically related to someone testifying to what someone else told them — is often inadmissible, but there are exceptions.
One of those is when hearsay involves someone’s “dying declaration” and Gallant’s statements meet that test, said Slawinsky.
Hearsay can also be allowed if it is considered a “spontaneous utterance.”
Gallant’s identification of his attacker fits that description, said the judge, noting he was mortally wounded with no apparent time for rational thinking or to make up a lie.
Although Carter’s testimony is admissible, Slawinsky still must weigh the reliability of Carter’s evidence when determining if Strawberry is guilty or not of killing Gallant. Strawberry is also accused of assaulting Carter on the same evening.
The Crown prosecutor and defence are set to make their closing submissions to the judge on Tuesday.
Slawinsky said it is likely she will reserve her decision until a future court date.