Illustration by THE CANADIAN PRESS Defence attorney Scott Spencer listens in court during the trial of Gerald Stanley in this courtroom sketch in North Battleford, Sask., on Thursday.

Judge in Gerald Stanley murder trial addresses witness inconsistencies with jury

BATTLEFORD, Sask. — Saskatchewan’s chief justice addressed some inconsistencies Friday in the testimony from key Crown witnesses at the trial of a farmer accused of murdering an Indigenous man.

Justice Martel Popescul’s mid-trial instructions to the jury came a day after some witnesses to the killing admitted on the stand that they made last-minute changes to their stories and lied to investigators.

“Common sense tells you that if a witness says one thing in the witness box, but has said something quite different on an earlier occasion, this may reduce the value of his or her evidence,” Popescul told jurors Friday before the Crown rested its case.

Gerald Stanley, 56, is accused of second-degree murder in the death of 22-year-old Colten Boushie near Biggar, Sask., on Aug. 9, 2016.

Boushie was sitting in the driver’s seat of a grey Ford Escape SUV when he was shot to death on Stanley’s farm. Boushie’s friends have testified that they were looking for help with a flat tire when they went to the farm.

Stanley’s son has testified that his father told him he was only trying to scare the young people away and the gun just went off.

Popescul was addressing the testimony of Eric Meechance, Cassidy Cross and Belinda Jackson, who were in the SUV with Boushie.

Cross admitted Thursday that he had lied to police in his initial statement about carrying a gun, how much alcohol he had consumed and about breaking into a truck on the day his friend was killed.

Jackson initially told police she saw a woman shoot Boushie.

“I wouldn’t say I lied to them. I didn’t tell them the whole truth,” Jackson said Thursday. “Everything started coming back to me later when I was on my own.”

Popescul said jurors should consider any explanation the witnesses gave for the differences.

“Consider whether the differences are significant,” he said. “You should also consider the fact, nature and extent of any differences when you decide whether to rely on their testimony.”

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