Officer testifies Khill said he was a 'soldier' following training on the night Jon Styres died
The officer who arrested Peter Khill testified Tuesday that the Hamilton man told him he was a "soldier" who was just following his training on the night he shot Jon Styres.
In its opening address, the Crown prosecutor told the jury it would be hearing how Khill woke up after hearing someone by his truck, loaded a 12 gauge shotgun with two shells, came outside and shot Styres twice from close range, once in the chest and once in the back.
Const. Matthew Robinson was among the first emergency responders to arrive the scene of the deadly shooting on Highway 56 just after 3 a.m. on Feb. 4, 2016.
He told the court he found Khill dressed in plaid boxers, a Pittsburgh Penguins hoodie and brown slip-on shoes, with mud from his knees to his shins and blood on his forearm and fingers.
Khill, 28, has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Styres, a member of the Six Nations of the Grand River. He has pleaded not guilty.
Robinson said Khill was calm and cooperative and told him "I even tried to save him" when he was first arrested.
When it became clear Styres was dead and his charge would be upgraded to murder, Robinson said he asked Khill if he had any questions.
"What do I even ask? I'm a soldier, that's how we're trained," the officer recalled Khill saying. "I came out, he raised his arms to, like, a gun-height. It was dark. I thought I was in trouble."
Robinson said Khill then asked him, "Does self defence mean anything in court?"
Robinson's testimony came after assistant Crown attorney James Nadel made his opening address to the jury by describing Styres' death as a "killing that never should have happened."
In his remarks, Nadel said Styres was trying to steal Khill's "15-year-old pickup truck" when the accused grabbed a gun and came outside to confront him.
Styres was shot twice from "close range," according to Nadel, who said the jury will hear from forensic experts who determined the muzzle of the gun was less than 12 feet away from the 29-year-old when it was fired twice, causing two lethal wounds — one in the chest and the other in the back of his shoulder.
"Two shots, two hits," he said.
Nadel added the jury will also hear from an expert who will say blood spatter evidence on the outside and interior of the passenger door showed Styres was close to the truck and either fully facing it or partially turned toward it when he was shot.
He said Styres died on his back in the mud at the scene — a screwdriver near one hand and a spent shotgun shell lying by his feet.
After the Crown's address, Khill's defence lawyer, Jeff Manishen, told the court his client doesn't dispute the fact that he shot Styres.
He also said Khill doesn't deny Styres died of injuries "he incurred in the course of that incident."
Police say night of shooting was 'very dark'
Court also heard from two other police officers who were called to the scene that night.
Const. Jeffrey Hahn was the first emergency responder on site and testified he initially drove past the house because it was so dark.
Once he pulled up, he said he noticed what appeared to be a woman's silhouette outlined by the blinding light of a porch light, which he said was the only source of light in the otherwise pitch dark.
He called out asking where the gun was and told the jury a man's voice told him it was in the house. Hahn said the voice also called out saying the wounded man is "over here, he's not breathing."
Officer describes 'large hole' in victim's chest
Hahn said he then ran Styres' side and began doing chest compressions, while telling another man, who was pacing nearby, not to move.
He added he quickly noticed a "large hole" in the wounded man's chest and that every time he did a compression, air seemed to escape from it.
Acting Patrol Sergeant Tim Knapp also spoke about Styres' injuries. He said he noticed the victim's shirt "fluttering" with each chest compression, when he arrived on scene around 3:19 a.m.
Knapp approached a "wide-eyed" woman on the porch who he said asked if her boyfriend was OK.
He said he went into the house and the crying woman pointed out the gun at the back of a hallway, which he ensured wasn't loaded before putting it in his trunk and taking it back to police headquarters as evidence.
Once paramedics arrived, Hahn said he began to examine the scene around him and noticed the lock on the passenger-side door was "punched in," the ignition column was damaged and the dashboard appeared to be lit up, although the truck wasn't running.
He also noticed Styres was carrying a knife, but noted it was closed, in his pocket and all that could be seen of it was a metal clip holding it in place.
Hahn said when he returned to headquarters to be interviewed by homicide detectives he was "covered in mud from my boots to my duty pants" and made such a mess while walking through the station that other officers were teasing him about leaving a trail.
Khill, who sat with his lawyers, was wearing a grey suit and looked away when court was shown a photo of Styres' body.
Supporters for both Khill and Styres filled several benches in the Hamilton courtroom during testimony from the officers. One of Styres' supporters was wearing a shirt with the hashtag #JusticeForJon.
The case is being watched by Indigenous community leaders because it raises similar legal issues to the controversial case in Saskatchewan involving the death of Colten Boushie, an Indigenous man.
In that case, an apparently all-white jury acquitted Gerald Stanley of second-degree murder in Boushie's death.
For this trial, prospective jurors were screened for possible racial bias and the jury includes at least one non-white person.