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Canada Witnesses in Gerald Stanley trial admit to changing stories since shooting of Colten Boushie

Colten Boushie.

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Two witnesses at the second-degree murder trial of Gerald Stanley admitted they have changed their stories since they first spoke to police after their friend, Colten Boushie, was fatally shot on a Saskatchewan farm.

Cassidy Cross-Whitstone, who was driving the vehicle in which Mr. Boushie was a passenger, and Belinda Jackson came under withering questioning on Thursday from Mr. Stanley's lawyer, Scott Spencer, about the inconsistencies in their statements to police and their testimony at trial. Mr. Cross-Whitstone, who was 17 at the time, said he initially lied to police because he was afraid he might be in trouble.

"I was young, I was stupid and I've changed a lot since that happened," he testified. "I was being selfish at the time. I was thinking about what would happen to me."

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Mr. Boushie, a 22-year-old Cree man from the Red Pheasant First Nation, was killed on Aug. 9, 2016. He was shot once in the back of the head on Mr. Stanley's farm, court has heard. The case has become a focal point of the sometimes tense relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Saskatchewan. The trial began on Tuesday in Battleford Court of Queen's Bench.

Mr. Cross-Whitstone said he had consumed about 30 shots of liquor that day. After their Ford Escape got a flat tire, he drove to a farm and tried to break into a truck with the butt of his .22 calibre rifle, which he had earlier denied. He said at the time he realized he shouldn't be stealing, and when they left in the Escape, his plan was to ask for help with their flat tire at another farm.

Mr. Cross-Whitstone said the rifle was not loaded when he tried to break into the truck. Afterward, he threw the rifle, which was now missing a stock and seemed bent and broken, in the back of the Ford Escape.

When he was asked how it could be that the gun was in fact loaded when it was seized by RCMP, Mr. Cross-Whitstone said maybe someone at the farm loaded the gun and put it beside Mr. Boushie.

He also told court that after being confronted on Mr. Stanley's farm, he ran from the vehicle and he heard two shots fired in his direction. He said he heard one bullet ricochet and another fizz through the air. But 24 hours after the incident, he told police he believed those were warning shots fired in the air and did not mention a ricochet, Mr. Spencer pointed out.

Court also heard testimony from Ms. Jackson, who was sitting in the back seat of the car when Mr. Boushie was shot. Ms. Jackson, 24, said she had started drinking in the middle of the day, fell asleep and woke up just as they arrived at the Stanley farm.

Ms. Jackson said Mr. Boushie was asleep in the front seat. She didn't know where they were or what was happening, but she knew something was wrong when the windshield was smashed, she said.

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The car crashed and came to a halt and Mr. Cross-Whitstone and Eric Meechance, Ms. Jackson's boyfriend who was also in the car, ran off.

Ms. Jackson said she heard an older man's voice say "Go get a gun." She said she saw a younger man walk into the house and then an older man carrying a handgun approach the vehicle. He was within an arm's length of the car when the fatal shot struck Mr. Boushie, she said.

"He came around the car to the passenger side and he shot Colten in the head," she said.

Moments later, a younger man approached carrying a shotgun, she said.

She remembers she and Mr. Boushie's girlfriend, Kiora Wuttunee, got out of the vehicle and were crying. Ms. Wuttunee opened a car door and Mr. Boushie's body fell out, she said. She said she did not see the .22 rifle fall out with him, as Sheldon Stanley, Mr. Stanley's son, had testified earlier.

Mr. Spencer asked whether she remembered telling police that she did not know who shot Mr. Boushie, or that it must have been one of the boys in the vehicle or the woman. She said she had been held in a cell by police and she hadn't eaten or slept at the time and was unsure how to answer police questions.

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Court also heard from an RCMP forensics firearms specialist on Thursday. He said an unusually shaped cartridge casing was found inside the vehicle in which Mr. Boushie was shot.

The cartridge casing shows an irregular bulge that suggests something out of the ordinary occurred when the shot was fired, although he couldn't say what it was.

The cousin of an Indigenous man shot dead in 2016 is urging people to come out and 'bear witness' at Gerald Stanley’s trial, which began Tuesday. Stanley is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Colten Boushie. The Canadian Press
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