Whitehorse Daily Star

He was a mess,' woman says of accused

Robert Truswell may have been a belligerent and malicing man, a jury heard this morning during the trial of George Kieran Daunt.

By Whitehorse Star on May 3, 2005

Robert Truswell may have been a belligerent and malicing man, a jury heard this morning during the trial of George Kieran Daunt.

Daunt, 50, is charged with second-degree murder in relation to the shooting death of Truswell in August 2003 in the gold fields near Dawson City.

The Yukon Supreme Court jury heard that Truswell is known as 'Two-by-four Bob' after he struck another man with a piece of lumber at Diamand Tooth Gerties gambling casino.

Camelia Sigurson, Daunt's friend of 25 years, was the first witness to testify this morning in Whitehorse.

She said Daunt drove up to her property on the afternoon of Aug. 28, 2003 the day Truswell died.

Daunt got out of his truck and said something about a shooting that Sigurson couldn't quite make out.

'I thought he shot a moose,' said Sigurson.

But Daunt explained to Sigurson that he had shot Truswell, though Daunt didn't think he was dead, the woman testified.

After the shooting, Daunt had seen Truswell drive away toward Daunt's property, Sigurson testified.

She described Daunt as jumpy, hyper and traumatized.

'He wasn't his normal self,' said Sigurson, who lived on a property near Daunt's.

The woman called the RCMP, telling them she needed an ambulance.

But it would take over an hour for both the police and ambulance to get there.

While Daunt and Sigurson waited for police, Sigurson learned that before the shooting, Daunt had been working on his own property when Truswell drove up and started harassing Daunt.

'At first, he tried not to let it bother him because he knew Robert was full of hot air,' said Sigurson.

She said Daunt had told her that Truswell had threatened Daunt, telling him he was going to get rid of him and that his property would soon be Truswell's.

Sigurson also testified that Daunt had heard from other people that Truswell wanted to kill him.

She wasn't sure how the shooting actually came about because Daunt tried to avoid talking about the details with her because he didn't want to get Sigurson involved.

'Mostly he talked about other things,' said the housewife. 'I don't think he wanted me to be sitting here today.'

However, Sigurson said he likely came to her because he needed a friend.

With tears, she recalled Daunt as being traumatized, pacing and agitated.

'He was a mess,' said Sigurson.

The two drank beer while waiting for police, and Daunt called a lawyer.

Sgt. Tim Ashmore, the Dawson RCMP detachment commander, eventually arrived.

He took Sigurson and Daunt up to a place called Gold Hill, where the shooting was believed to have taken place, court heard.

Daunt didn't go without resistance, Sigurson said.

He was terrified that if Truswell was still alive, he might come take a shot at him, she said.

Sigurson went up to the hill with Daunt, Ashmore and another officer to give Daunt moral support, even though she testified that she was terrified of Truswell too.

At the hill, while police looked around, Daunt sat on a rock.

Sigurson tried to comfort him, but at the same time kept an eye over her shoulder in case Truswell was behind a tree waiting to shoot them, she testified.

Eventually, Sigurson heard on one of the officer's radios that a pool of blood had been spotted.

Truswell was located and found with no pulse.

'It seemed like forever,' Sigurson said about the 2 1/2 hours she believed had passed while out at Gold Hill.

The pair was taken back to the Dawson detachment.

At some point, Daunt was arrested and taken to Whitehorse for his first court appearance.

Later, police arrived at Sigurson's house with a search warrant and found a weapon hidden on the roof of the shed on her property.

Sigurson was to continue her testimony this afternoon, being cross-examined by Richard Fowler, a defence lawyer from Vancouver.

Earlier in the morning, Crown prosecutor David McWhinnie told the jury members they will hear evidence about how over the last 20 years, Daunt may have developed a fear of Truswell.

About 100 witnesses may be called over the next few weeks.

Witnesses will include police officers who investigated the alleged murder to people from the community who can provide insight into what sort of man Truswell was and Daunt is.

McWhinnie told reporters the trial will end when it will end. Some people estimate it will last from two to four weeks.

Once the jury has heard all the evidence, it will be up to its members to determine if Daunt is guilty or innocent.

If they rule that Daunt is guilty of second-degree murder, they must believe beyond a reasonable doubt that Daunt caused Truswell's death unlawfully with the 'required state of mind for murder.'

Until that time, they must presume Daunt is innocent, Justice Ron Veale reminded the 12 jury members.

Truswell was 53 years old when he was shot to death.

The trial was supposed to get underway on April 18 in Dawson.

However, Veale ordered the trial moved to Whitehorse after lawyers suggested Daunt's trial might be tainted if held in the Klondike's capital because of too many rumours.

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