The second degree murder trial of Keegan Nelson-Smith heard from two witnesses Wednesday morning.
Nelson-Smith is charged in the death of Muhammad Venne, who died after a fight outside a home in Bell’s Point in June of 2020.
The first witness heard from at the trial Wednesday, which is taking place at Court of King’s Bench in Prince Albert, was Dr. Shaun Ladham, the province’s chief forensic pathologist, who performed the autopsy on Venne at City Hospital in Saskatoon. Ladham explained he did a complete examination of Venne’s body, adding he noted there were three stab wounds to his chest.
The forensic pathologist said he observed an injury to Venne’s right chest cavity and noticed there was some discoloration in the area which is an indication of an injury.
“That means its (the cavity) full of something,” he said.
Ladham testified the first stab wound he noticed in the middle of the chest hit the heart and caused significant blood loss. He added this was the lethal injury to the victim.
“That’s a large hemothorax,” he said.
The two other stab wounds which were on the victim’s body were found to be contributing factors. Along with the stab wounds, Ladham as well testified he noticed other injuries to Venne’s body during his examination.
“There was some small abrasions and contusions to the face,” he said.
On cross examination the defense lawyer for Nelson-Smith asked Ladham about the toxicology report which showed that there was alcohol and cocaine detected in the victim’s system. Ladham responded the levels of cocaine detected tend to show the drug was not used in the immediate lead up the event, but likely hours before.
The defense as well asked questions about the size of the knife used to stab Venne, to which Ladham testified the size of the knife likely ranged from 11 to 12 centimeters in length.
“It’s what we see for a typical steak knife,” he said.
The court as well heard from an eyewitness to the fatal fight. Corey Clarke, who is currently in custody, took the stand after Ladham had finished his testimony. Clarke was with Venne in Bell’s Point in June of 2020 when he was stabbed. He testified he had been drinking for much of the day and evening and had attended a party along with Venne and some other people, but said they decided to leave after another group of people showed up and the atmosphere became tense. Clarke said he knew the victim well.
“Muhammed, I knew him since we were little kids,” he said.
According to Clarke, as the two were walking down the street after leaving the party, another group of people passed by and a confrontation happened with words being exchanged. Clarke testified Venne ran towards the group and a fight began. Clarke said he was a distance away from the fight, but said it appeared someone was hitting Venne in the stomach. He eventually came towards the fight telling the group of people to get away from Venne, he said this is when he realized that his friend had been hurt.
“When I got to him, he was bleeding,” he said.
When he noticed how badly hurt Venne was Clarke told the court he called 911. He also testified that Venne told him he thought he was going to die.
On cross examination the defense asked Clarke if he had any problems with Venne that night, which Clarke denied. The defense as well asked him if he remembered being asked to leave a home after he had a confrontation with someone, Clarke testified he did not remember. He as well said while witnessing the fight he did not see anyone with a knife in their hand.
At the start of his testimony Clarke did admit his memory of the night might have faded over time.
“I was pretty drunk and it was quite awhile back,” he said.
(Top Photo: Court of Kings Bench in Prince Albert Wednesday afternoon. Photo by Michael Joel-Hansen.)