Photo by Whitehorse Star
Photo by Whitehorse Star
Darryl Sheepway testified in his own defence on Monday for the second time during his Yukon Supreme Court trial.
Sheepway, 39, is facing a first-degree murder charge after shooting and killing Christopher Brisson, 25, on Aug. 28, 2015.
Last Friday afternoon, the defence asked that Sheepway be permitted to take the stand again.
The request was prompted after Crown prosecutors took issue with portions of Dr. Shabehram Lohrasbe’s psychiatric report based on statements made by Sheepway that he never testified about.
On Monday morning, Justice Leigh Gower ruled in the defence’s favour, permitting Sheepway to testify once again.
Through his testimony, the court learned more about the extent of his addiction to crack cocaine and his actions following Brisson’s death.
Sheepway testified cravings for crack cocaine still “dominate” his thoughts, referring to it as an “obsession.”
He added that he spends most of his time at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre (WCC) laying in bed fantasizing about using drugs.
Sheepway also testified about a period from December 2015 to March 2016 when he was in southern Ontario living with his grandparents, parents or attending a residential treatment program at Homewood Health Centre in Guelph.
During this time, he said, he reconnected with friends in Oakville, Ont., where he had grown up, and was able to purchase drugs through them.
Sheepway said he was paying for the drugs by taking cash advances out on his grandfather’s credit card, taking money from his parents and committing several robberies.
“I did a lot of things I wasn’t proud of to buy cocaine,” he testified.
Sheepway described his first robbery at a gas station within walking distance from his grandparents’ house where he secured a large amount of cash.
“I remember thinking, ‘wow, that was really easy,’ ” he recalled.
But he noted that he didn’t physically harm anyone during the robberies, and ran away during a failed attempt when the store clerk threatened to call 911.
Sheepway has since pled guilty to several robbery charges from Ontario which have been waived to the Yukon. He will be sentenced at a later date to be determined following the murder trial.
The court also heard about Sheepway’s struggles with sobriety outside of a controlled environment.
He testified that two weeks after he returned to Whitehorse in mid-March 2016, he relapsed and began heavily using crack cocaine.
It was during this time that he confessed to a co-worker he was using drugs, and that he had shot and killed Brisson.
Then, over the May long weekend in 2016, Sheepway committed bank fraud at a number of ATMs in Whitehorse.
He testified he was trying to get as much money as possible to buy drugs with plans to flee the Yukon and end his life.
“I was just sick and tired of life,” he said.
Without a concrete plan, he drove south on the Alaska Highway until he reached Prince George, B.C., where he ran out of drugs.
Sheepway said he phoned his then-estranged wife “to say goodbye” and admitted to his role in Brisson’s death.
Through that phone call, he was located by Prince George RCMP and admitted to a local hospital.
When released a few days later, he was arrested on fraud charges and taken back to the Yukon.
Sheepway also detailed a time after the homicide when, while alone in his kitchen, he had a vision of Brisson lunging at him. When he shook his head, he testified, the brief vision disappeared.
This was the only vision or hallucination Sheepway has experienced, but he said he still has weekly dreams about crack cocaine.
Finally, Sheepway testified that when he worked as a correctional officer in Whitehorse, he was trained in the use of force.
He was only ever involved in planned situations, he said, like removing inmates from their cells, and he became adept at understanding how people would react.
But Sheepway said this was one of the reasons he left his job at the WCC in the fall of 2012.
“The things that I had to do in that job certainly followed me home and caused me grief,” he told the court.
Sheepway’s phone records were also entered as evidence. They showed that he had contacted Brisson and another drug dealer multiple times per day throughout most of August 2015.
In previous statements to police, he said that he had contacted Brisson “almost daily.”
With Sheepway’s further testimony, the defence closed its case Monday afternoon.
Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Phillip Klassen is expected to provide rebuttal evidence for the Crown on Wednesday.
This is the last week scheduled for the murder trial, which began Nov. 6.
Defence lawyers Vincent Larochelle and Lynn McDiarmid raised concerns Monday that they will not have enough time to enter final submissions, highlighting complex expert evidence in the case.
But Justice Gower said he would like the case to conclude this week, noting that otherwise, it would spill into the new year.
“In my view, this is not a complex case,” Gower said.
He stressed to the defence, “You’re not entitled to a perfect trial; you’re entitled to a fair trial.”
In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.
Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.