Man living in basement apartment calmly told 911 victim had been stabbed
Witness says murder accused admitted attacking own son
Alain Chaput was lying in bed watching a game show when his friend and roommate John Mcrae knocked on the bedroom door and told him he had just stabbed his own son.
“Call 911,” Chaput recalled Mcrae saying, as he testified Tuesday in Mcrae’s second-degree murder trial. “I just stabbed Mike.”
It was around 6:30 p.m. on July 7, 2015. Chaput and Mcrae, now 73, had been drinking at a neighbourhood pub before they returned to the apartment they shared with Mcrae’s 51-year-old son Michael at 6632 Notre Dame in Orléans.
Chaput, now 59, told court he had been working for about two years mowing lawns with the elder Mcrae, who he had known for 20 years.
Chaput moved into the apartment about two or three months before the killing and took up a bedroom across the hallway from Mcrae, while Michael Mcrae slept on the living room couch.
Crown prosecutors say Mcrae stabbed his son as he lay passed out on the couch following an argument earlier that day, one which Chaput testified he witnessed.
Mcrae has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder. His trial is expected to last seven weeks.
The jury of eight women and four men heard Chaput on the recording of the 911 call played in court Tuesday, his voice calm, quiet and monotone as he told the dispatcher, in French, that Michael Mcrae had been stabbed.
When the 911 dispatcher asked if he could wake the man, Chaput replied that he thought Mcrae was just drunk, and said he could hear the man snoring. Chaput acknowledged in court he was intoxicated that day and had only partial recollection of the events.
“Just cancel all that,” he told the dispatcher. “If there’s something else I will call you back.”
Chaput was on the line with 911 two minutes later. In the second call, read into court by an interpreter, Chaput told the dispatcher he had just seen John Mcrae covered in blood.
“I saw Johnny in his bedroom. He was full of blood and I said, ‘What did you do?’ He said, ‘I just stabbed Mike. Call 911.’ ”
Chaput told court he also noticed the large blood-stained kitchen knife on Mcrae’s bedside table, and told Crown prosecutor Marie Dufort he recognized it as the same knife shown in crime scene photos taken by police later that day.
He then returned to the living room and turned Michael Mcrae over, when he noticed the blood. He had been stabbed twice in the abdomen and his throat was slashed.
Chaput, feeling “nervous,” he testified, made his way outside the apartment to hold the door open for paramedics.
Ottawa police Sgt. Jeff Aylen, the first officer to arrive, testified earlier in the trial that Chaput told him his roommate had just been stabbed by the man’s father.
Aylen also saw the blood-stained blade when he entered the apartment, gun drawn, and found John Mcrae still sitting on the bed.
“That’s the knife,” Mcrae told the officer.
The defence is expected to revolve around Mcrae’s state of inebriation at the time, and the physical threat he felt from his son.
Chaput told court he and Mcrae drank at two bars that afternoon and returned to the apartment, where they encountered Michael Mcrae and two other men sitting outside on lawn chairs drinking beer.
Johnny and his son began arguing about rent, Chaput said, and he believed Mike owed his father money. John Mcrae’s name was on the apartment lease, and he was responsible for the rent, Chaput testified.
“He got up and pushed Johnny to the ground,” Chaput said. “He had a hard time getting up, but he got up and Mike pushed him down again.”
Chaput testified he couldn’t recall details of the argument, now more than two years later.
“I hate arguments, I don’t listen to them,” he told court.
He later read the statement he gave to police on the day of the killing but said the statement did not assist him in recalling details of the day.
“Mike said, ‘You’re no good for f--- all,’ ” Chaput read from his statement to police. “You’re better dead and I’ll f---ing kill you one day.’ ”
Chaput said Tuesday he remembered Mcrae being “pissed off ” as he and his son parted ways.
Chaput went inside to cook dinner, telling Mcrae to “go to bed and everything will be OK in the morning.”
He said he heard nothing over the noise of the television and didn’t see John Mcrae again until he knocked on the bedroom door. The trial continues Wednesday.