Jenny Zollerano poses for a photo with her younger brother, Lloyd Sarson, in Red Deer in September 2010. Sarson was gunned down in a Red Deer back alley on New Year’s Day 2013.

Eyewitness to murder testifies at trial

Sitting in back seat when shots fired

There was no warning before a teen allegedly fired a fusillade of shots at the driver in a Red Deer back alley on New Year’s Day 2013.

Chato Tootoosis, 27, testified on Monday that he was sitting in the back seat when the 17-year-old in the front stepped out of the car, pulled out a gun and shot Lloyd Robert Sarson numerous times in rapid fashion.

There had been no angry words nor confrontation before the shocking moment of violence that ended with the gunman fleeing into the dark.

Crown prosecutor Rajbir Dhillon asked what Tootoosis was doing as the shots rang out around 5 a.m.

“Watching. Hoping I wasn’t going to be the next one to get shot,” Tootoosis testified in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench before an eight-man and four-woman jury.

A 21-year-old man is on trial for first-degree murder in Sarson’s death. He can’t be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act because he was 17 at the time of the shooting.

As soon as the shooter was gone, Tootoosis went to help Sarson, 25, who was coughing and making gurgling noises.

“That’s it. He didn’t say anything. He just started dying.”

An autopsy would later determine that Sarson was shot eight times, seven of the .22-calibre bullets lodging in his body. He died quickly of blood loss.

Tootoosis said he stole a car in Calgary about a day earlier and picked up a friend to make the trip to Red Deer to see friends. He and a group of others, including Sarson, spent most of New Year’s Eve and into New Year’s Day drinking, socializing, and making drug deals.

Just before the shooting, Sarson, the accused and Tootoosis had been driving around and wound up in the alley, where the shooting happened.

Afterwards, Tootoosis ran to a friend’s house, then went to a hotel to retrieve his cellphone. He ended up at another friend’s house where he told him about the shooting, but told him to keep quiet.

In cross-examination, defence lawyer Karen Molle, of Calgary, picked apart Tootoosis’s statements to police, pointing out a number of discrepancies.

He didn’t tell police about the stolen car at first and admitted lying to police about a friend not being home when he went to his house after the shooting.

She also asked him whether he had blood on his clothes after trying to move Sarson into the passenger seat. He said he didn’t know.

“I was in shock. I didn’t know what to do or where to go.”

The trial resumes on Tuesday. Molle said a decision has not been made on whether the accused will take the stand in his own defence.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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