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RCMP left Colten Boushie vehicle in rain with door open, court told

Colten Bouchie’s mother, Debbie Baptiste, walks to the Battleford, Sask., court during the first day of the trial of Gerald Stanley, the farmer accused of killing her 22-year-old son.

Liam Richards/THE CANADIAN PRESS

In the hours after Colten Boushie was killed, police left the car in which he was shot exposed to a summer downpour, a court heard on Tuesday as the trial of the man accused in the killing began in Saskatchewan.

RCMP forensic officer Corporal Terry Heroux testified that there was a gap of about 24 hours between his initial trip to the crime scene, when he was authorized to investigate under the Coroner's Act, and the time when a warrant to search was granted. During that time it rained, he said, and the vehicle, with the door open, was "regrettably" not covered to protect it from the elements. The photographs taken on his second visit to the scene show that much of the blood visible in his first photos was gone.

"It was very obvious it had washed away a lot of the red substance consistent with blood," Cpl. Heroux said.

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The vehicle in which Mr. Boushie was a passenger was released to a towing lot five days after his death and before lawyers for Gerald Stanley, the farmer accused of second-degree murder, could examine it.

The RCMP also did not bring in a blood pattern analysis expert to examine the vehicle in person, but relied on analysis of photographs.

Scott Spencer, the lawyer for Mr. Stanley, asked Cpl. Heroux why the vehicle was sent to a towing lot and not kept in storage.

Cpl. Heroux said that once it had been scanned for evidence and processed, it did not need to be retained.

"It's not different than if a homicide is committed in a house or school. Once the processing is complete, it's complete," Cpl. Heroux said.

"Are you not aware of the obligation to provide the defence with the evidence so we can do independent testing?" Mr. Spencer asked.

Mr. Stanley sat listening closely to the evidence on Tuesday at the Battleford Courthouse.

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Mr. Boushie, a 22-year-old Cree man from Red Pheasant First Nation, was killed after a car in which he was a passenger drove onto Mr. Stanley's farm property near Biggar, Sask., in August, 2016. The case became a flashpoint as public reaction laid bare the province's racial divide.

The Crown outlined its case in an opening statement to the jury on Tuesday.

Bill Burge, the lawyer for the Crown, said jurors will hear from Mr. Stanley's son, Sheldon Stanley, who will describe how he and his father were working in the yard that afternoon when he heard a vehicle approach and then heard someone trying to start an ATV. The two men ran toward the sound, where they saw someone getting in a grey Ford Escape that started to drive in their direction. Sheldon Stanley will testify that he struck the car with a hammer, Mr. Burge said. He then ran toward the house and heard two gunshots. As he emerged from the house moments later he heard a third shot and saw his father standing next to the car with a gun in his hand, Mr. Burge said.

He said the Crown will present evidence from a pathologist's report that shows Mr. Boushie died of a single gunshot wound.

"There was only one significant injury to his body and that was a gunshot wound that entered just behind his left ear and exited his right neck," Mr. Burge said. He added that Mr. Boushie's DNA was found on the trigger guard and the hammer area of the gun that they believe fired the fatal shot.

He said jurors should will also hear testimony from a firearms expert about the single shell casing found inside the vehicle in which Mr. Boushie was shot.

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"He will testify that the expended cartridge in the vehicle had an unusual bulge," Mr. Burge said. "It is very important evidence and when he is called, I urge you to pay very close attention."

The first witness to testify on Tuesday was Cpl. Heroux of the forensics section.

He presented photographs that laid out the scene as police found it on the night Mr. Boushie died. The photos show Mr. Boushie lying face down on the ground, one arm extended above his head, the other hanging limply at his side, a short distance from the vehicle. Its drivers side door was propped open.

A short distance from Mr. Boushie's body was the barrel of a .22 calibre rifle, which was missing the stock.

The second witness to testify, Sergeant Jennifer Barnes, a blood stain pattern analyst, said Mr. Boushie's blood was found on the barrel.

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A cousin of slain Indigenous man Colten Boushie says she's upset but not surprised an apparent all-white jury was selected Monday at the murder trial of Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley. Boushie was fatally shot in August 2016. The Canadian Press
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