It was the victim who brought into an argument the 12-gauge shotgun that ultimately shot his thigh, a defence lawyer alleged during trial Wednesday morning.
Defence lawyer Don Skogstad’s cross-examination of shooting victim Kyle Miller got testy in Penticton’s Supreme Court chambers, as the aggravated assault trial for Matthew Cameron entered its second day.
Cameron is charged with aggravated assault and using a weapon for an indictable offence, accused of shooting his then-roommate, Miller, in the thigh with a shotgun at their Lindsay Road residence near Naramata.
The incident came after an argument allegedly arose while the two attempted to buy cocaine in July 2015. In the first day of the trial, Crown counsel John Swanson alleged that Cameron retrieved a shotgun from his room after they had returned home and shot Miller in the thigh.
However, in day two, Skogstad spent some time questioning Miller’s memory of the day and of subsequent interactions with the investigating officers.
In one instance, Skogstad appeared to take a shot at Miller’s credibility, making note of a pretrial interaction, in which Miller told the court that he didn’t have a shotgun. That had been followed by the question of whether police found a shotgun during a search, and to whom that shotgun belonged.
Miller said during the pretrial hearing that a shotgun was found, which belonged to him, that he found it in the bush and that he used it for “nothing.” He, then, confirmed that he used it to shoot birds and coyotes off of his deck.
“Were those answers true?” Skogstad asked, Miller answering that they weren’t.
“Were you under oath at the time?” Skogstad asked, Miller answering that he was.
Skogstad questioned Miller about the make of the shotgun, which Miller had previously said he believed to be a Weatherby.
“Just seeing it, you’d have to know the design of it, I guess, to know that it’s different from a Remington 870 shotgun, per se?” Skogstad asked, to which Miller agreed.
Skogstad asked Miller where the gun, which was never located by police, went. Miller said he didn’t know and that the last place he had seen it was in Cameron’s hands.
In a September 2015 statement to police, Miller allegedly said Cameron had turned his head and closed his eyes while pointing the gun at Miller, a fact that Skogstad pointed out was omitted from a separate statement to police.
“Do you think you have a good memory?” Skogstad asked, Miller responding that he has a reasonably good memory. “Do you remember this incident well?”
Miller responded that he remembered “bits and pieces” of the incident, describing it as “pretty hard to forget.”
It was shortly following that statement that Skogstad accused Miller of bringing the gun out.
“You got it out, and you had it, and he got it away from you,” Skogstad said, while Miller repeated that he didn’t.
“Not a chance. I’m 260 pounds. He’s not pulling it out of my hands. I did not have a gun,” Miller responded. “I don’t like you saying that about me.”
Skogstad alleged that Miller was drunk, prompting Miller to say for the second time that morning that he wasn’t drunk during the incident.
“Or was it the marijuana that made you—” Skogstad began, before Miller interjected to say that it wasn’t true. “So, you’re saying he’s too weak to pull it out of your hands? A guy like you. You’re too tough, too strong?”
Miller responded that he was saying that he didn’t have the gun in his hands. Skogstad proceeded to accuse Miller of having another man present, Oliver Bell, dispose of the gun before police arrived.
“Not a chance. If you listen to the 911 conversation, you’ll hear Oliver on the phone whole time, and you’ll hear me in the background howling the whole time,” Miller responded. “Oliver never went nowhere.”
Skogstad alleged that Bell took 20 minutes before calling police, which Miller, again, rebutted, telling Skogstad that “he took 20 seconds to call the police.”
After that exchange, Skogstad turned his attention to before the incident, when Miller and Bell parted ways with Cameron on their way home, asking Miller what messages he had sent to Cameron on Facebook at the time.
“I don’t know, that he’s a spineless goof,” Miller said in court.
“You threatened him,” Skogstad responded, adding that he had been in communication from the hospital as well. “You told him you were going to kill him.”
Miller said he didn’t remember what he had said, though he recalled demanding some of his things back from Cameron.
Swanson brought in investigator Cpl. France Burke, who testified in detail photographing the scene of the incident.
In one part of her testimony, Burke told the court that she had inferred from one of the photographs that there didn’t appear to be any signs of a struggle near the doorway.
“The other thing that I wanted to show in this photograph is the lack of disturbance of the shoes and the broom,” she said. “It didn’t seem to me that there was a large, that there was any disturbance, per se, with these items, where there was a sign that there might have been a fight.”
Cameron has been out on bail since shortly after the incident in July 2015.
The trial is expected to continue until next Tuesday, with lawyers expecting to finish entering evidence by this week’s end.