Wit­ness tells court he saw woman stab friend

Jury hears man knifed in the chest while group drank in Pi­apot First Na­tion home

Regina Leader-Post - - CITY+REGION - HEATHER POLISCHUK hpolis­chuk@post­media.com twit­ter.com/LPHeatherP

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.

Tia Pi­na­cie-Lit­tlechief

Justin Crowe

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