By Cam Fortems
KAMLOOPS THIS WEEK
A jury will decide whether a 16-year-old boy who shot and killed a rival for his girlfriend almost eight years ago planned the murder or shot him in a panic, botching an idea to scare the victim.
Defence and Crown lawyers gave final submissions to the 12-person jury in Kamloops on Tuesday morning. Following instructions from B.C. Supreme Court Justice Sheri Donegan, jurors were sequestered late Wednesday morning.
Tyler Myers, 22, was shot to death in the Bastion Elementary schoolyard in Salmon Arm on Nov. 21, 2008.
The now-24-year-old man standing trial for his death cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act because he was 16 when Myers was killed. The accused’s ex-girlfriend, now a 25-year-old woman, is also charged with first-degree murder and will stand trial later this year. She cannot be named because she was 17 when Myers died.
The accused were charged four years after the slaying, at the end of a months-long RCMP Mr. Big undercover operation that culminated in confessions from both suspects.
The trial began earlier this month with the accused pleading guilty to second-degree murder. The Crown declined to accept that plea, letting the jury decide whether he should be convicted of either first- or second-degree murder.
Defence lawyer Donna Turko told jurors it was the girl who masterminded the murder. Texts were read in court showing the girl was having sex with Myers and the 16-year-old and was also sexting with a friend in California.
“She’s having explicit sexual relations with both men and telling both she loves them,” Turko said, arguing the 16-year-old boy was “lovesick” and was manipulated by the girl.
“She was not working on him to hatch a plan,” Turko said. “She was working on him to do her bidding.”
The accused testified he intended to scare Myers with a shot and panicked when things went wrong.
Turko said her client “didn’t know ahead of time he’d shoot Tyler.”
Crown prosecutor Evan Goulet said it’s not disputed that Myers died of three gunshot wounds, one to his back while on his feet and the other two while he was face-down on the ground – one to the head and the other to his back. The accused testified the girl told him “shoot him [Myers] in the head” as he was on the ground.
While Turko painted a portrait of her client as the pawn of the girl, hiding in the woods, shaking and shooting in an attempt to scare Myers, Goulet said the accused man’s statement to police when he was arrested in 2012, after the Mr. Big sting, shows what really went on in his head.
Evidence from text messages shows the accused man did not want to shoot Myers in the days before his death. But in the statement to police, the accused man said nothing about any attempt to scare Myers in the Salmon Arm schoolyard. Instead, he described hiding some 50 or 60 feet away in the woods, using a stump to line up and steady the .22 he borrowed from a friend before shooting in Myers’ direction.
“Yes he was 16,” Goulet said. “He’s still a human being. He’s not a child. He’s not stupid… There was a plan and everything went according to plan.”