Having already sustained a violent beating and a bullet wound to the leg, 21-year-old Ryan Saint Ange was incapacitated but still alive when he was shot to death in his 56th Street basement suite apartment on a snowy night in January 2012, Crown counsel Carolyn Lawlor told a jury Tuesday at the start of Robert Adam Van Dusen’s second-degree murder trial.
Van Dusen’s trial began in B.C. Supreme Court in Chilliwack with Justice Laura Gerow telling a five-man, seven-woman jury that it will be up to them to decide if the evidence and testimony presented in court is sufficient to convict the accused.
Some of that evidence, it was soon revealed by Lawlor, will come from Shayne Vauthrin, who already pleaded guilty to manslaughter with a firearm in connection to the slaying and who will testify about what happened the night of Saint Ange’s death.
“On Jan. 14, 2012, there was a storm brewing in Abbotsford, both weather-wise and in Mr. Vauthrin,” Lawlor told the jury during her opening statement.
Several months before, Vauthrin had moved out of the basement suite where he lived because of a “falling out” with his roommate, Lawlor said.
The night of the killing, Vauthrin had viewed a Facebook page advertising for sale belongings he believed were rightfully his. The page belonged to Saint Ange, whom he had considered a friend and who now lived in his former room.
Lawlor said Vauthrin will testify that he tried to recruit friends to go to the home, where they would “steal belongings and teach the occupants a lesson,” but Van Dusen was the only person willing to accompany Vauthrin.
Both men carried handguns and another man, who is also expected to testify, volunteered to drive a van to the residence, Lawlor said.
She said when the men arrived at Saint Ange’s home, the house looked unoccupied, but when Vauthrin entered the home and proceeded down the stairs to his old room, he found Saint Ange inside.
Lawlor said an angry Vauthrin hit Saint Ange over the head with his .22-calibre pistol, which then discharged and sent a bullet flying across the room.
She said a startled Vauthrin then put down the gun, picked up a nearby hatchet and began to bash Saint Ange over the head. Saint Ange was sitting on a love seat in the room and fighting back, but the altercation abruptly ended with another gunshot, Lawlor said.
She said Vauthrin will testify that Van Dusen shot Saint Ange in the leg.
After Vauthrin and Van Dusen exchanged words, Lawlor said Van Dusen “steps forward, leans over Mr. Saint Ange, who was still on the love seat, and shot him.”
She said Van Dusen quickly left the room, followed shortly after by Vauthrin. The entire incident took five minutes.
Following Lawlor’s statement, a video of the crime scene was shown in which Saint Ange is lying face down in a pool of blood. There is also blood on top of an adjacent bed, and on the walls and window sills next to the love seat.
The trial is expected to last six weeks.