By Lethbridge Herald on September 26, 2023.
A 40-year-old man on trial for second-degree murder admitted that in July of 2020 he stabbed 16-year-old Tregan Crow Eagle, but only after the younger man came at him with a knife.
Dustin Big Bull, who described the events leading up to the stabbing, testified Monday in Lethbridge Court of King’s Bench that on July 22 he and his girlfriend went to a party on the Piikani Nation, where they consumed drugs and “home brew.” Big Bull said he became drunk after drinking “a lot” of alcohol, and when he and his girlfriend began walking back to his house, Crow Eagle followed them.
As Crown Eagle walked up to the door of the house, Big Bull hit him then grabbed him and threw him into a table. Big Bull demonstrated for the judge how he bent over the fallen boy and repeatedly struck him with his fists until his victim was unconscious and became limp.
Big Bull said Crow Eagle was bleeding from the nose and face, but he left him lying on the floor and and went to the other house where he continued to drink alcohol. An hour or more later he returned to his own house, and as he was walking through the yard Crow Eagle approached him. Big Bull testified that when the two were only about five feet apart, he noticed Crow Eagle had a knife, so he pulled out his own knife and stabbed him in the neck.
“It happened so fast,” he told court.
Big Bull said he just reacted when Crow Eagle approached him, but added he can’t remember many details or what he did after he stabbed his victim.
The accused’s testimony comes on day one of the defence case, which was delayed several months following the conclusion of the Crown’s case in March. The court was also waiting for the completion of a forensic assessment of the accused that had been requested by Calgary lawyer Andre Ouellette.
The assessment under Section 672 of the Criminal Code allows the court to order an assessment of the mental condition of an accused, if there are reasonable grounds to believe it’s necessary to determine whether the accused is unfit to stand trial, and whether the accused was, at the time of the commission of the alleged offence, suffering from a mental disorder so as to be exempt from criminal responsibility.
During her opening statement at the start of the trial in February, Crown Prosecutor Lisa Weich said Crow Eagle’s body body was found on July 27, 2020 in a small thicket of shrubs near the wastewater pond on the Piikani Nation. The body, discovered during a search by family and friends, was covered by a blue tarp, and was near the garbage dump about half a kilometre east of the Brocket townsite.
That evidence was submitted as part of an agreed statement of facts between the Crown and defence, which provides the judge with certain undisputed facts that will not have to be proven during trial.
During her recital of the facts, Weich said Crow Eagle was last seen on July 22, 2020, and his mother called police the following day after Crow Eagle had not returned to his home or that of his grandparents.
After the body was found, one of the searchers, Piikani Elder Mills Big Bull, approached the tarp and said a prayer, and police were notified of the discovery. The medical examiner’s officer reported Crow Eagle died of “multiple sharp force injuries.”
Big Bull is also charged with causing an indignity to human remains. Big Bull said Monday he remembers covering Crow Eagle’s body then dragging it, but he doesn’t remember what he did after that. The trial is scheduled to continue at 2 p.m. today with cross-examination by the Crown. Weich said her cross-examination of the accused will likely continue Wednesday, as well.