Khill files state­ment of de­fence in Styres suit

Fam­ily of slain 29-year-old Six Na­tions man filed claim months be­fore not-guilty ver­dict

The Hamilton Spectator - - Front Page - TEVIAH MORO

THE

MAN WHO SHOT a Six Na­tions man dead in his Binbrook drive­way but was ac­quit­ted has filed a state­ment of de­fence in a civil suit against him.

Peter Khill de­nies re­spon­si­bil­ity for dam­ages or in­juries al­leged by Jonathan Styres’ fam­ily in their more than $2-mil­lion claim. Khill also re­jects he in­tended to kill Styres when he found him in his truck and shot him twice early on Feb. 4, 2016.

In his Nov. 2 state­ment, he claims to have “feared that a home in­va­sion, and po­ten­tially an armed home in­va­sion, was im­mi­nent.”

This, he al­leges, is be­cause Styres, whom he de­scribes as “men­ac­ing” to him and his then-fi­ancée, knew about a garage opener in the truck.

Khill, who is white, also de­nies he made no ef­fort to con­tact po­lice be­fore con­fronting Styres at 3 a.m. with his shot­gun — de­spite ev­i­dence in the crim­i­nal trial that he didn’t call 911.

Robert Hooper, lawyer for the plain­tiffs, re­jected Khill’s nar­ra­tive about Styres pos­ing a home in­va­sion threat, that he was “men­ac­ing,” or that he tried to con­tact po­lice be­fore fir­ing shots.

“There’s noth­ing that sup­ports any of these sug­ges­tions,” Hooper said Thurs­day, not­ing he and a col­league sat through the June crim­i­nal trial.

His law of­fice is rep­re­sent­ing Styres’ spouse, Lind­say Hill, and their young daugh­ters, Zoey and Sophia.

Brian Simo, who’s rep­re­sent­ing Khill, de­clined to re­spond to ques­tions about his client’s state­ment. “Un­for­tu­nately, I can’t of­fer any fur­ther com­ment at this time. It would be un­fair to the process.”

None of the al­le­ga­tions in the civil suit have been tested in court.

In June, a jury in Khill’s crim­i­nal case found him not guilty of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der and man­slaugh­ter in Styres’ death.

Khill, 26 at the time of the deadly en­counter, ac­knowl­edged in the twoweek trial he’d shot Styres, 29, when he found him in his truck. But the for­mer mil­i­tary re­servist ar­gued he acted in self-de­fence, say­ing he feared for his life when Styres lifted his hands to “gun height.”

Styres, how­ever, didn’t have a gun.

The ver­dict drew a deep gulf be­tween those who sup­ported the de­ci­sion and oth­ers who be­lieved race was a fac­tor in the ac­quit­tal.

It served as a ral­ly­ing cry for In­dige­nous pro­test­ers and lead­ers to not only ap­peal the ver­dict but re­form the jus­tice sys­tem.

In July, the Crown filed an ap­peal ar­gu­ing Jus­tice Stephen Glithero didn’t prop­erly in­struct the jury on self-de­fence.

The Crown also ar­gues the judge al­lowed an un­qual­i­fied wit­ness to opine about the ef­fect of Khill’s mil­i­tary train­ing.

Styres’ fam­ily launched the law­suit on Jan. 31, 2018, months be­fore the not-guilty ver­dict. They have claimed “loss of care, guid­ance and com­pan­ion­ship,” “men­tal dis­tress” and “psy­cho­log­i­cal dam­age,” as well as loss of in­come and ser­vices.

In ad­di­tion to $2 mil­lion in dam­ages, the law­suit seeks ag­gra­vated and puni­tive dam­ages of $250,000. The next step in the civil case would be dis­cov­ery, Hooper noted. No trial date has been set.

The Khill ver­dict came af­ter an all-white jury in Saskatchewan ac­quit­ted a white farmer in the shoot­ing death of Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old Cree man.

Six Na­tions Elected Coun­cil has called on Ot­tawa to “over­haul” the jus­tice sys­tem, which “over­rep­re­sents In­dige­nous peo­ple as vic­tims and ac­cused per­sons, and chron­i­cally un­der­achieves jus­tice.”

Parts of Bill C-75, which At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jody Wil­sonRay­bould in­tro­duced in March, are meant to ad­dress this.

A stand­ing com­mit­tee re­port on the bill was pre­sented to the House of Com­mons on Nov. 2.

Peter Khill

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