CALGARY—There was conflicting testimony in court Monday about whether a youth charged in the shooting of a German tourist on an Alberta highway may have acted on his own or was ordered to fire the gun.
The youth from the Stoney Nakoda First Nation was 16 when he was charged last August after 60-year-old Horst Stewin was shot in the left side of the head by someone in a passing car west of Calgary. Stewin was driving a black SUV with members of his family.
The teen, who cannot be named, is on trial for aggravated assault and discharging a firearm with intent to injure. A number of other charges, including attempted murder, were withdrawn.
The Crown said in its opening statement that Stewin was airlifted to hospital after being shot with a .22-calibre rifle and later transferred back to Germany for further surgery. Prosecutor Dane Rolfe said eight bullet fragments were removed from Stewin’s brain.
“He is paralyzed on his right side and has had to learn to write with his left hand. He gets confused and has memory issues. His prognosis for a full recovery is guarded at best,” Rolfe said.
The car’s driver, who is in custody on an unrelated charge, testified that he and his three passengers had been drinking vodka and smoking meth when he saw the black SUV and sped up to pass it.
“As I was passing the vehicle I heard the bang. It was the .22. It came from the back seat. I saw him sit down. I looked in the rear-view mirror and the black SUV hit the ditch,” he said.
The driver, now 25, said he liked the suspect who he described as “some kid hanging around us older dudes.” He testified he had been trying to be a big brother to him.
“Did you know he was going to shoot?” asked Rolfe.
“No,” the driver replied.
“Did you tell him to shoot it?” Rolfe asked.
But a woman who was sitting in a rear passenger seat said it was the driver who ordered the accused to pull the trigger while they were passing Stewin’s SUV.
“He told him to shoot,” she testified.
“I just shut my eyes and covered myself. Would you want to see someone shooting somebody?”
Defence lawyer Balfour Der questioned her testimony that the youth had fired through the passenger window on her side of the car.
“If it had been fired through your window, because you’re sitting right there, you would have noticed that, right?” Der asked.
“As soon as I saw a gun, I closed my eyes I didn’t want to know or see what was going on,” the witness replied.
“He did not have the gun did he?” Der pressed further.
“No. It was handed over to him. He was told to shoot it.”
The driver of the car the youth was in also testified that he kept hold of the rifle used in the shooting and wasn’t going to take the blame for the shooting.
“I wasn’t going to go down for that,” he said.
In cross-examination, Der pointed out that the witness had lied to police on several occasions and had been high on alcohol and meth, so his memory of the day is likely to be suspect.
“Really we can’t trust anything you’re telling us because your mind was clouded by drugs and alcohol, correct?” Der asked.
The driver admitted that he and a friend had gone to the 16-year-old’s home before any arrest and beat him up. He didn’t explain why.