A defence lawyer says an Indigenous teen who died in a shooting on a Saskatchewan farm was the victim of a freak accident.
Gerald Stanley’s lawyer is making his opening arguments before a jury hearing the man’s second-degree murder trial.
Scott Spencer told jurors that 22-year-old Colten Boushie’s death wasn’t justified, but they must put themselves in Stanley’s shoes.
He said the Stanley family was facing intruders on their farm near Biggar, Sask., in August 2016 which created a panic situation.
Spencer suggested it wasn’t unreasonable for warning shots to be fired to scare off the intruders and called the fatal shooting a “freak accident in the course of an unimaginably scary situation.”
Boushie was sitting in the driver’s seat of a grey Ford Escape when he was shot.
“This is not a justified death. It is never right to take somebody’s life. But that’s not what this case is all about,” Spencer told court in Battleford, Sask., on Monday.
“For farm people, your yard is your castle. We have a family. They were working on their ranch. That’s what the day started like for Gerry and his family. What happened is they faced essentially (an) intruder.”
Court has heard an SUV with a flat tire carrying five people drove onto the Stanley farm. The driver testified the group had been drinking during the day and tried to break into a truck on a neighbouring farm, but went to the Stanley farm in search of help with the tire.
Stanley’s son has testified that on the day of the shooting, he and his father heard an ATV start and thought it was being stolen. The pair ran toward the SUV and threw a hammer at the windshield as the driver tried to leave the farm.
Sheldon Stanley said he went into the house to get his truck keys and heard two gunshots. He said he heard a third when he came back out. He told court he saw his father, looking sick, with a gun in his hand saying, “It just went off.”
“You have to view it from Gerry’s perspective and what he faced. The fear, the unknown. When you’re in a situation where you have intruders and you don’t have the luxury of being able to wait for police assistance. This case comes down to what’s reasonable,” Spencer said.
“It’s not a self defence. What can you do to protect yourself in those circumstances? You can’t use lethal force but is it reasonable to deal with the circumstance to protect you and your family?”
Spencer suggested Stanley’s gun misfired.
“The reality is the gun just went off. If they would have just stopped … stopped stealing … just walked away he wouldn’t have had to go over there.” said Spencer, who added that Stanley will take the stand to explain what happened.
The Crown wrapped up its case last week.
The Canadian Press