Jury hears 911 call made af­ter shoot­ing

Death of In­dige­nous man was self-de­fence, ac­cused has said

The Welland Tribune - - Canada & World - PETER GOF­FIN

HAMIL­TON — The wife of a white home­owner on trial for killing an In­dige­nous man says she hoped it was her part­ner who pulled the trig­ger when she heard two gun­shots out­side their house on the night of Feb. 4, 2016.

Peter Khill, 30, has pleaded not guilty to sec­ond-de­gree mur­der in the shoot­ing death of Jon Styres — who was al­legedly try­ing to steal Khill’s truck — though he does not deny that he hit the 29-year-old from Six Na­tions Re­serve with a pair of shot­gun blasts.

Khill’s wife Melinda Benko, who is six months preg­nant with the cou­ple’s first child, tes­ti­fied Wed­nes­day that she woke him up on the night of the shoot­ing af­ter she heard loud knock­ing or bang­ing noises out­side their iso­lated, ru­ral home near Hamil­ton.

She heard Khill get his shot­gun from the bed­room closet, load it and head out the back door while she looked out the win­dow, she said.

Benko saw the sil­hou­ette of a per­son in the pas­sen­ger seat of the truck, then a blind­ing light fol­lowed by yelling and two loud, echo­ing blasts ac­com­pa­nied by fly­ing sparks, she said, adding that she could not tell at first who had fired the shots.

“I was hoping Pete would shoot first if he had to,” Benko tes­ti­fied.

“I just freaked out and called 911.”

The Crown played the nearly 15-minute 911 call for the jury, in which Benko de­scribes the se­ries of events, adding that her then­boyfriend had shot a man who was try­ing to steal their truck.

Khill can later be heard on the 911 call telling the op­er­a­tor that he fired in self-de­fence.

“It looked like he was lit­er­ally about to shoot me so I shot him,” Khill said over the phone. “I didn’t want to lose my life ... Look­ing at him now it doesn’t look like (he has a gun).”

A po­lice of­fi­cer who was at the scene has pre­vi­ously tes­ti­fied that Khill re­counted a sim­i­lar ver­sion of events af­ter be­ing ar­rested.

“I’m a sol­dier. That’s how we were trained. I came out. He raised his hands to like a gun height. It was dark. I thought I was in trou­ble. Does self-de­fence mean any­thing in court?” Const. Matthew Robin­son said Khill told him.

The jury heard on Mon­day that po­lice did not find a gun on or near Styres, though they found a knife in his pocket.

Khill, a 26-year-old me­chan­i­cal tech­ni­cian and li­censed mill­wright at the time of the shoot­ing, served as a re­servist with a Brant­ford ar­tillery reg­i­ment of the Cana­dian Armed Forces. He has been on bail since shortly af­ter his ar­rest.

The case, which has some sim­i­lar­i­ties to the racially fraught trial and ac­quit­tal ear­lier this year of a white Saskatchewan farmer ac­cused of mur­der­ing In­dige­nous man Colten Boushie, is be­ing closely watched by First Na­tions lead­ers.

Benko tes­ti­fied that she and Khill had been “on edge” in the days lead­ing up to the shoot­ing.

The cou­ple moved into their house around Bin­brook, Ont., about six months ear­lier and there had been “a lot of chatter in the com­mu­nity” about break and en­ters, car thefts and peo­ple be­ing hurt by in­trud­ers, she said.

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