July 14th, 2024

Accused killer faces charge of breaching order


By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on October 14, 2023.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A Brocket man waiting for a judge’s decision following his second-degree murder trial in Lethbridge Court of King’s Bench, is also facing a related charge in a lower court.

Dustin Big Bull is charged with failure to comply with a non-communication order for contacting a woman while he was in remand custody at the Lethbridge Correctional Centre. Big Bull, 40, has been in custody ever since his arrest for the stabbing death of 16-year-old Tregan Crow Eagle on July 22, 2020, and had been ordered by the court not to have any contact with the woman while he was in custody.

The matter was in Lethbridge court of justice this week, but his lawyer, Andre Ouellette of Calgary, simply asked to adjourn it to Nov. 1. In the meantime, Ouellette said he planned to inquire whether the charge could be resolved with Madam Justice Johanna Price in Court of King’s Bench, who is scheduled to render her decision on the murder trial on Oct. 26.

“I propose making an application before her to have that superior court deal with these matters, as well, because they’re clearly related,” Ouellette said.

Big Bull’s trial concluded Sept. 28 with closing arguments by Ouellette and Crown Prosecutor Lisa Weich, during which Ouellette acknowledged his client pulled out a knife and stabbed Crow Eagle.

“There’s no question that Big Bull caused the death of Mr. Crow Eagle,” Ouellette said.

However, that doesn’t mean Big Bull’s actions were criminal and weren’t warranted, Ouellette suggested.

“It is clear, as well, under Section 34 (of the Criminal Code), that a person is not guilty of a criminal offence if he believes on reasonable grounds that force was necessary to protect himself.”

Ouellette said Big Bull had no choice but to protect himself when Crow Eagle approached him with a knife in his hand.

Big Bull testified during his trial that he became drunk while drinking “home brew” at a house in Brocket, and after he and his girlfriend left to walk to his house, Crow Eagle followed them. When they arrived at Big Bull’s house, and Crow Eagle followed them inside, Big Bull punched him in the face, threw him against a table then repeatedly struck him until he lost consciousness.

Big Bull and his girlfriend left the bleeding Crow Eagle lying on the floor and went to the other house where he continued to drink alcohol and consume drugs. 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 as Crow Eagle approached him, and 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 and other parts of his body.

“He has no choice at that point but to take the steps he did to defend himself,” Ouellette said.

Big Bull then dragged Crow Eagle’s body across a field and dumped it in some bushes.

Weich said in her closing arguments that Big Bull was not acting in self defence and could have reacted differently.

“Why did he have to stab Tregan?” she asked.

She said Big Bull’s response was not proportionate to the perceived threat and Big Bull could have backed away, told Crow Eagle to stop, or even warned him that he had his own knife.

“Was the accused’s conduct reasonable in the circumstances?”

Weich said there was no evidence to suggest Crow Eagle intended to attack Big Bull with his knife, and as he walked toward the older man he wasn’t holding the knife out threateningly, or making stabbing motions. Weich also pointed out Big Bull is several inches taller than Crow Eagle and at least 40 pounds heavier and much stronger.

Price can find Big Bull guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter if she determines he was acting in self defence.

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, which Ouellette said defence concedes.

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