Witness tells court he saw woman stab friend
Jury hears man knifed in the chest while group drank in Piapot First Nation home
Henry Thorn told a Regina jury he saw Tia Justice Pinacie-Littlechief stab his friend, Justin Crowe, in the chest while the three were by the back door in the kitchen of a Piapot First Nation home.
But Thorn said he didn’t realize how serious it was until his friend collapsed near the back door steps shortly after.
Thorn took the stand Thursday at the second-degree murder trial for 23-year-old Pinacie-Littlechief, who is accused of killing Crowe, 27, on Oct. 27, 2015.
Thorn, court heard, was one of seven people who headed out to Crowe’s parents’ house that early October morning. Thorn said the group was getting along well, sitting in the kitchen, listening to music, talking and sharing a bottle of vodka.
But, before long, the night took a bad turn.
At one point, Thorn’s girlfriend left in her vehicle, although he said he doesn’t recall when or why.
Thorn said he experienced an alcohol-induced blackout shortly after that. He testified the next thing he remembers, he was standing in the kitchen next to Crowe while Pinacie-Littlechief was reaching into the drawer where the family kept utensils — including various knives.
Thorn said he shut the drawer before she could remove a knife but, after he turned around, she reopened it.
“I stopped her the first time but, the second time, I couldn’t stop her from grabbing something out of the drawer,” he said.
Responding to questions from Crown prosecutor Mitchell Miller, Thorn said nothing and no one was in Pinacie-Littlechief ’s way as she walked the short distance to the back door with Thorn and Crowe following.
Thorn said he told her to put the knife back, but couldn’t remember what, if anything, was said by anyone else.
“And then Justin walked in front of me,” Thorn said. “I don’t know what he said ... (Pinacie-Littlechief ) turned around and she hit him in the chest.”
Thorn said he thought the injury was relatively minor until, the group now outside, Crowe “fell over by the truck.”
Thorn said his attention turned fully to his friend.
“I just kept him sitting up and tried to talk to him ...,” Thorn said, battling his own emotion as Crowe’s mother sobbed in the courtroom gallery.
“He was busy trying to focus on his breathing.”
He said he left another female to watch over Crowe while Thorn ran to the nearest house to call 911.
By the time someone drove him back to the Crowes’ house, his friend was dead.
During cross-examination, Pinacie-Littlechief ’s co-defence lawyer Ian McKay recounted Thorn’s criminal record, which includes several assaults — among them, a spousal assault. Thorn acknowledged he sometimes gets violent when intoxicated.
Thorn denied Crowe had a short temper or that he’d witnessed him being violent toward women, and said he doesn’t remember telling a police officer those things.
McKay also referred to a statement Thorn gave police shortly after the stabbing when he said, “She just probably got scared because she thought Justin was going to do something to her,” referring to a mention of Crowe coming toward Pinacie-Littlechief after she grabbed the knife.
Thorn said he was still intoxicated and “hyped up with adrenalin” when he gave that statement.
McKay pointed to a photo of the kitchen, stating blood evidence found near the fridge — on the opposite side of the room from the door — was found to be Crowe’s, suggesting evidence doesn’t fit Thorn’s story.
Thorn said he could have left it there when he came back into the house while covered in his friend’s blood.
Thorn agreed with McKay he was “nine out of 10 drunk,” acknowledging he blacked out several times and later had to try “to put the pieces together” about what happened that night. But he insisted he remembers the stabbing.
The trial continues Monday.