Little Red Murder Trial Winding Down

Tuesday, June 05, 2007 at 14:39



Closing arguments have been delivered in the trial of a man from the Little Red River reserve accused of murder.


The defence has conceded that Henry James Bird is guilty of assaulting a fellow band member on the reserve the night of August 7th, 2005.


However, defence lawyer Peter Abrametz Jr. said his client is not guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Clayton Ballantyne.


The 29-year-old Ballantyne died after being stabbed in the neck by Bird while he was sitting on the back of a truck.


Abrametz told the jury those facts are not in dispute.


He said the issue is whether Bird had the mental intent to actually kill Ballantyne when he swung the knife.


Abrametz said everyone was drinking the night of the crime, and a doctor has testified his client suffered alcohol-induced amnesia of the incident.


He stated it’s clear from witness testimony that Bird consumed a lot of alcohol in a short time prior to the incident, and so he is asking the jury to find his client guilty only of manslaughter, the aggravated assault of William Halket and the assault of his brother.


The Crown has painted a different picture of Ballantyne’s death.


Cynthia Alexander contends Bird did have the mental intent to kill Ballantyne.


She says witnesses have told the court that after the stabbing happened, one of the people in the back of the truck shouted: “What did you just do?”.


Bird, according to the testimony, shouted back: “Shut up and go and get an ambulance.”


Alexander also says witnesses have testified Bird was angry at the victim earlier that day, and told another band member he planned to plead self-defence while walking away from the incident.


She wants the jury to find him guilty of second-degree murder and attempted murder.


However, she has withdrawn a charge of assault causing bodily harm from her case, saying she hadn’t proven beyond a doubt it took place.


The judge was scheduled to begin instructing the jury at 2:00 this afternoon.


Jurors will begin deciding the fate of the accused after that.