The first-degree murder trial of a man accused of committing a gang-style shooting in a Red Deer alley nearly four years ago began in front of a jury on Tuesday.
The body of 25-year-old Lloyd Robert Sarson was found in a car left in a back lane, south of Ross Street, near 37th Avenue, early on Jan. 1, 2013.
Sarson had been shot multiple times. The Court of Queen’s Bench jury heard the victim was found at about 5:20 a.m. seated behind the steering wheel of a car that still had its headlights on and front passenger side door wide open. Some 22-calibre bullet casings were found outside the car.
The 21-year-old man in custody, who can’t be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act because he was 17 at the time of Sarson’s death, is charged with planning a deliberate murder. His defence lawyer is Karen Molle, of Calgary.
If sentenced as an adult — as previous Crown prosecutor Robin Snider, promised during the accused’s first court appearance in 2014 — he could be sentenced to life imprisonment with no parole eligibility for 25 years.
But Justice S. D. Hillier cautioned the jury that it’s not up to the accused to prove his innocence, but the Crown to prove his guilt.
Crown prosecutor Rajbir Dhillon laid out his case, saying testimony will be heard over the next three weeks about how the accused and Sarson knew each other through the drug scene, got into a fight several days before the shooting, and exchanged angry text messages before seemingly making up.
Dhillon intends to call a witness who says he was with the two males on New Year’s Day. This witness will describe how the accused “shot Sarson repeatedly without provocation” before fleeing, added Dhillon, who told jury members they must determine whether the man is telling the truth. “I will argue that he is.”
Four witnesses took the stand on Tuesday — two attending police officers and two Eastview residents who heard gun shots in their alley and were first on the scene.
Peter Allan said he heard “popping” sounds from his open window, then someone say “Holy f—-, what did I just do?” He didn’t see anyone fleeing the scene.
His neighbour, Michael Wakulich, initially thought Sarson was asleep at the wheel. After prodding him, Wakulich said Sarson’s body slumped over, revealing blood behind his head and shoulder. He told his girlfriend to call 911. As a trained first responder, he looked for signs of life and found none.
The trial continues today.