July 17th, 2024

Accused recalls some details of deadly altercation with clarity

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on September 27, 2023.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

Dustin Big Bull seemed to struggle remembering certain details of the day three years ago when he stabbed 16-year-old Tregan Crow Eagle to death, but other details he recalled with striking clarity as he gave evidence Tuesday in Lethbridge court of justice where he is on trial for second-degree murder.

Big Bull described the altercation with Crow Eagle on July 22, 2020 and said he remembers pulling out a knife with his right hand and flipping it open as he and Crow Eagle walked toward each other, moving the knife across the front of his body so his left hand could shift the blade to point downward, grabbing Crow Eagle’s right hand with his left hand then pushing Crow Eagle to the ground. Big Bull said they both fell and he stabbed the younger boy in the neck.

But under cross-examination by the Crown, Big Bull couldn’t remember how many times he stabbed Crow Eagle, or the motion he used to stab him, or several other details of the incident. Occasionally when he answered the Crown’s questions, it appeared he didn’t remember certain details, but gave an answer that seemed to make the most sense.

Crow Eagle’s 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.

Big Bull is also charged with causing an indignity to human remains.

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 repeated much of the testimony he gave Monday under direct examination by his lawyer, Andre Ouellette of Calgary.

The accused testified that on July 22 he and his girlfriend went to a party in Brocket on the Piikani Nation, where they consumed “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 Crow Eagle walked up to the door of the house, Big Bull hit him in the face then grabbed him and threw him into a table. Big Bull bent over the fallen boy and repeatedly struck him with his fists until his bleeding victim lost consciousness and became limp.

Big Bull and his girlfriend left Crow Eagle lying on the floor and went to the other house where he continued to drink alcohol. An hour or more later they returned to his own house, and as they walked through his yard he saw Crow Eagle standing under a tree. 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.

Crown Prosecutor Lisa Weich is expected to continue her cross-examination today, and while Ouellette said he may spend a few minutes asking his client a few more questions afterward, he could be ready to provide his closing arguments today, as well, or possibly Thursday.

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