Trial on 2013 New Year’s Day shooting in Red Deer hears closing arguments

An eyewitness to a 2013 New Year’s Day murder is unreliable, says a defence lawyer.

The testimony of an eyewitness to a 2013 New Year’s Day murder is unreliable, the lawyer defending a man on trial first-degree told a jury on Thursday.

Calgary lawyer Karen Molle said in her closing argument it would be “dangerous” to convict her 21-year-old client on the evidence of eyewitness Chato Tootoosis alone.

The accused can’t be named because he was 17 at the time of the alleged offence.

Tootoosis testified he was in the back seat of a car when the alleged accused got out of the passenger seat and shot Lloyd Robert Sarson, 25, in a back alley in Eastview.

She questioned why Tootoosis didn’t call police right after the shooting around 5:20 a.m. despite having numerous opportunities. His rationale that he was afraid of being implicated as a party to the crime is “nonsensical,” she suggested.

Molle said Tootoosis frequently changed his story about events leading up to the shooting when confronted with facts that contradict his version.

Summing up Tootoosis’ testimony, she said, “you just can’t rely on him” and urged the jury to find her client not guilty.

Crown prosecutor Rajbir Dhillon said there is plenty of evidence to back up Tootoosis’ testimony about what happened that night. His claim that the killer shot Sarson through the open passenger door seven to 10 times matches what happened. Sarson was hit by eight bullets.

The position of the shell casings on the ground and that the passenger door was open when a neighbours arrived on the scene after hearing shots backs up Tootoosis’ version of events.

Cellphone records revealing threats and witnesses to a fight between Sarson and his accused killer show that the accused was very angry at the victim.

Dhillon said it’s the accused’s contention that he stopped using his cellphone and quit Facebook the same day as the killing because of threats is not plausible. The accused also left town four days after the killing.

The Crown also questioned the accused’s testimony that he was at home with a roommate around the time of the shooting. No evidence was presented in court to back that story up, he said.

There is also no evidence to suggest that Tootoosis was involved in the killing or had any reason to falsely accuse the man on trial.

Instead, the accused was heard on a phone saying the victim was “done” and a later text said that the accused wasn’t going to doing any more talking with Sarson.

“On Jan. 1 (the accused) did no less than what he said he was going to do.”

The judge will make his instructions to the jury on Friday morning and then the eight-man, four-woman jury will begin deliberations.

pcowley@www.reddeeradvocate.com

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