A Dartmouth youth on trial for second-degree murder vehemently denied being responsible for the fatal stabbing of Chelsie Probert as the Crown wrapped up a gruelling cross-examination Tuesday.
The 17-year-old boy, whose identity is protected, chose to testify in his own defence at his hearing in Halifax youth court.
He told the court Friday that the Crown’s main witness, a 20-year-old man he was with on the night of June 6, 2017, actually killed Probert.
The teen said he watched in shock as his older friend attacked Probert, 18, with a corkscrew-like device and a kitchen knife after she laughed off his robbery attempt on a path between Farrell Street and Albro Lake Road in Dartmouth.
The accused said his friend then held the knife to his ribs and threatened to kill him and his girlfriend if he told anyone what had happened.
The boy said he wrapped the weapons up in his jacket, as directed by his friend, and they walked to his apartment, also in north-end Dartmouth.
He said he cleaned the knife off with water while his friend scrubbed the corkscrew-like device, a tire reamer, with dish soap. He said he placed the knife back in a kitchen drawer, and his friend got him to put the tire reamer in a plastic container in his bedroom closet.
The pair changed some of their clothing and then went to a Needs store on nearby Highfield Park Drive, where his friend bought cigars.
During cross-examination Tuesday, Crown attorney Steve Degen played security video that shows the two young men at the store.
The accused agreed with Degen that in video from the checkout area, he is smiling and laughing.
“I’m trying to act like nothing happened,” he said.
“You’re obviously a pretty good actor, aren’t you?” the prosecutor asked.
“I guess so,” the boy answered.
“I’d have to act like nothing happened, yes, because he’d just threatened me with my life and my girlfriend’s life if I told anyone anything.”
After leaving the store, the boy said they went to his uncle’s apartment because his friend wanted to get some marijuana. Degen asked why he didn’t tell his uncle what had happened or perhaps stay there for the night rather than go back to his apartment alone with a friend he supposedly feared.
The boy said he believed his friend had another knife on him and may have been willing to harm his uncle.
He said he pulled his mattress into the living room and slept on it while his friend slept on the couch.
“It sounds like you weren’t very afraid of (him),” Degen said.
“I was afraid of (him) – very afraid,” the accused said.
The Crown attorney questioned why the accused didn’t go home after two unsuccessful robbery attempts earlier that night. The youth replied that he didn’t leave because his friend still had three of his possessions – the tire reamer, the kitchen knife and a marijuana pipe.
Degen noted that the boy put on black clothing before they left his apartment earlier that evening. He also wore a black ball cap, with his hood up over his head and a bandana around his neck.
The pair had different clothes on at Needs, the video shows. The boy was wearing a red hat that he had on earlier in the day, and the bandana was no longer around his neck.
“I’m going to suggest the reason you put on the dark clothing and a dark hat and put your hood up is because ... you knew you were going to be getting into some trouble,” Degen said.
The boy replied that they were going to set a bonfire in the woods when they first went out that night. Having a fire “is doing something bad,” he said.
Degen ended the cross-examination by accusing the boy of committing the murder.
The prosecutor said it was the accused who carried the corkscrew and knife during the robbery attempts and used the corkscrew as if it was brass knuckles in the attack on Probert.
“This was the third time that evening that you had attempted to accost someone or scare them or rob them, and it frustrated you that she was not paying any attention to you whatsoever,” Degen said.
“Because of everything that was going on in your life, in a moment you just snapped and you reacted. It was actually you that struck her four times with the corkscrew, and it was you that stabbed her.
“After that was over, you showed (the star witness) the corkscrew and you said to him that there was no blood on it but you had a pretty good idea that she was not going to make it.
“You got home afterwards and you were probably a fair bit shocked by what you had done, so you actually did start to cry.”
The day after the homicide, the boy was comfortable wearing his friend’s tracksuit “precisely because it wasn’t him that killed Chelsie Probert,” the Crown attorney said. “That’s why you weren’t concerned about wearing his clothes.”
The teen exchanged messages with the friend in the days following the killing and had no problem inviting him to hang out, Degen said.
“The reason for all those things is because you were not afraid of (him),” Degen alleged. “The reason you were not afraid of (him) is because (he) did not kill Chelsie Probert. You did.”
“(He) did kill Ms. Probert,” the accused insisted. “I did not kill Ms. Probert. That’s not true.”
The youth will be back in the witness box Wednesday for redirect examination by his own lawyers.
The trial began Sept. 4 and was scheduled to conclude this week, but counsel advised Judge Elizabeth Buckle on Tuesday that additional time will be needed. She reserved Oct. 24 and 25 for closing submissions.