Smithers courthouse

Third week of Giesbrecht murder trial wraps up

Week three of the Giesbrecht murder trial wrapped with the dismissal of a defence application

The third week of the trial of Albert Giesbrecht for the alleged 2017 murder of Raymond Bishop wrapped up at Smithers B.C. Supreme Court Feb. 8 with the judge dismissing a defence application.

On Friday afternoon, defence attorney Terry La Liberté applied to have the prosecution furnish particulars on its theory of the means by which the crime of first degree murder was committed — which is legalese for further justifying the charge.

The defence argued the particulars were necessary for the accused to defend himself and receive a fair trial.

In rendering an oral decision on the application, Justice David Crossin first recapped some of the Crown’s theory that on the morning of May 18, 2017, Giesbrecht, with a firearm or firearms in his vehicle, had crossed from Burns Lake to Southside on the ferry with the intent to harass his ex-wife Susan Giesbrecht and/or Bishop, who the accused believed were romantically involved. At the terminal in Southside, the judge said, the two men were allegedly involved in a confrontation.

Although there were no eyewitnesses to the shooting, Bishop had died of a single gunshot wound to the chest fired from, according to the prosecution, a 30-30 rifle belonging to Giesbrecht.

Crossin then referenced the definition of first degree murder with emphasis on Section 229.(c) of the Criminal Code of Canada (CCC): “where a person, for an unlawful object, does anything that he knows or ought to know is likely to cause death, and thereby causes death to a human being, notwithstanding that he desires to effect his object without causing death or bodily harm to any human being.”

The judge noted the “unlawful object” as presented by the prosecution’s case was the alleged harassment.

Crossin cited case law indicating the standard for ordering particulars included incomplete or late disclosure of evidence, or the introduction of or intention of prosecutors to introduce an alternative or alternative theories of the crime.

He said he saw “no suggestion of failing” on the part of the Crown to provide the defence with full disclosure of all the evidence it intended to bring and dismissed the application.

Earlier in the week, Crossin heard testimony of decades of alleged verbal and physical abuse between Giesbrecht and Susan, who divorced in 2016.

Kathleen Gardner, Susan’s sister, testified she had personally witnessed Albert throwing Susan around by the hair, slamming her into a wall, throwing wood and shovels of dirt at her and kicking at her, in addition to constant screaming, swearing and name-calling.

Gardner also told the court that a few days before Bishop was found shot to death near Francois Lake on May 18, 2017, he and Susan had decided they were going to take their relationship public and had gone into Burns Lake together.

Stephen Giesbrecht, the defendant’s son, also testified his father had been verbally, violently and emotionally abusive to his mother as far back into his childhood as he could remember, until he left home in 1995.

The Crown, represented by prosecutor Nina Purewal, introduced text messages between Stephen and his father, and questioned the witness about Albert’s state of mind around the time of the alleged murder.

Stephen said their relationship had deteriorated in the few months before, and on a couple of occasions his father had asked if he knew that his mother was “shacking up with Ray Bishop” and had said that he (Albert) “thought [Ray] was his friend.”

On cross-examination, defence attorney Terry La Liberté tried to pin the witnesses down to specific instances and dates of abuse and had them admit they had never seen Albert actually strike his wife.

The defence asked Gardner why, if the alleged abuse was so pervasive, she had never gone to the police. Gardner said she felt it was not her place to do so.

Both witnesses also answered on cross-examination that they had not heard Albert make any threats against either Susan or Bishop.

The trial is scheduled to continue until Feb. 22.

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