By Tim Petruk, Kamloops This Week
A desire to “man up” and impress his girlfriend led a Grade 12 teenager to pull the trigger on a rifle in a Salmon Arm schoolyard nearly eight years ago, leaving his romantic rival dead.
The accused, now a 24-year-old man, is standing trial in B.C. Supreme Court in Kamloops on one count of first-degree murder in relation to the Nov. 21, 2008, death of 22-year-old Tyler Myers. He cannot be named because he was 16 when Myers was killed.
His girlfriend at the time, now a 25-year-old woman, is also charged with first-degree murder and similarly cannot be named publicly. She is slated to stand trial in November.
Court has heard the female accused was involved romantically with both Myers and the male accused at the time of the killing. Both accused were arrested in November 2012 at the conclusion of a months-long RCMP Mr. Big undercover operation.
The male accused has admitted to shooting Myers three times — twice in the back and once in the back of the head. Defence lawyer Talia Magder has told jurors it is up to them to decide whether his conviction should be for first- or second-degree murder.
The jury has watched video recordings of police interviews between the male accused and an RCMP detective in which the female accused is painted as “the mastermind” behind the plot to kill Myers.
In court on Thursday, the male accused testified the female accused had been “pressing the idea” of shooting Myers the night before the murder. The male accused said he brushed it off.
Defence lawyer Donna Turko showed jurors text messages the female accused sent to another man the night before the murder, asking him for a gun.
“I want a piece,” the female accused said to the unnamed third party.
“A piece of him or a piece?” he replied.
“No, like a gat,” the female accused wrote back, using a slang term for firearm.
The next morning, the male accused said, he approached the female accused with an idea to remove Myers, a small-time drug dealer, from the picture without killing him.
“I got the idea that we could stage a phoney drug deal with Tyler and scare him with a gun — scare him out of town,” he said.
“She wasn’t very keen on it. She didn’t think it was a very good idea.”
Later in the day, court heard, the two accused and a friend visited Bastion elementary’s schoolyard while cutting class.
“I don’t really know how it came up,” the male accused said. “Somehow we started talking about how this location would work just fine [for a staged drug deal gone wrong]. Then she said it would also work just to shoot him.”
The male accused said he asked a friend to borrow one of his father’s rifles to scare Myers. He said that was his intent when he showed up at the school later that evening.
The female accused, meanwhile, had lured Myers to the schoolyard with the promise of a meeting with the male accused to resolve friction between the two.
The male accused said he hid in a forested area and planned to fire a bullet in Myers’ direction when the female accused momentarily left his side.
“I never agreed to shoot or kill him,” he said. “I had no intention to shoot or kill him at that point.”
In court, the male accused said he was nervous while hiding in the wooded area — shaking, heart pounding and feeling sick.
Before Myers and the female accused arrived, he said, he lied and texted the female accused to say there were people in the area, hoping she would call it off. She did not reply, jurors heard.
“I didn’t want her to think I was backing out,” the male accused testified. “I wanted to man up, so to speak. We had the intention, she would bring him over by the school and I’d be waiting there and I’d try to jump out and shoot at him or scare him. That was the plan.”
The male accused said his nerves increased when Myers and the female accused arrived.
“He’s just standing there looking around,” he said. “I’m shaking terribly. I’m feeling sick. I certainly didn’t think I could say anything or confront him. But it was now or never, so to speak. I aimed the gun toward him, I looked down and I just fired.”
The male accused said he hadn’t intended to hit Myers with his bullet, but he saw the victim put his hand on his side and lean forward.
“I immediately thought I’d hit him,” he said. “We were both kind of deer in the headlights — just frozen.”
Myers then tried to run away, the male accused said, at which time he ran at him and fired another round, missing.
“He took a few more strides and then sort of fell,” he said.
“[The female accused] came over and said, ‘Tyler, are you OK?’ There was no response. He was just laying there.”
The male accused said he remembers standing over Myers in shock.
“She comes around and says, ‘Do him again — do him in the head,'” the male accused testified.
“It was automatic. I fired again. She came around and kissed me and said, ‘You did good, babe.'”
The male accused said he fired two shots while Myers was on the ground — one in his back and one in the back of his head.
Turko then asked why he followed his girlfriend’s orders to shoot Myers again.
“It was automatic,” he said. “She just said it and it was an automatic response.”
At the end of her questioning, Turko asked the male accused who was to blame for Myers’ death.
“Do you blame [the female accused] for the shooting of Tyler Myers?” she asked.
“No, I blame myself for not walking away from the situation,” the male accused replied. “I take full responsibility for shooting and killing Tyler. That was my mistake. I wish I could go back in time, I really do. Nobody deserves to die. Nobody’s perfect, but there’s no scenario where anyone deserves to die.”
The male accused’s trial is expected to wrap up next week.