The Crown and defence will present their final arguments to the jury today in the attempted murder trial of Ronald Fowler at the B.C. Supreme Court in Smithers
Last week’s session of the trial ended with the defence presenting its version of the Oct. 14, 2017 shooting of George Parent in Two Mile.
On March 8, defence counsel Joseph McCarthy dispensed with making an opening statement to the jury and called his one and only witness, the accused.
Fowler testified that, in the spring and summer of 2016, Parent began engaging in harassing behaviour. The two men, he said, had a falling out over some farm equipment that Fowler and another friend had helped Louis Parent, the victim’s brother, clear out a barn on the farm the Parent brothers share on Six Mile Road. The road winds through the Fowler property and is a public right of way.
Earlier last week, Louis, testifying for the Crown, told the jury the three men who cleared out the barn were going to scrap the metal from the implements and split the proceeds. George, he said, was angry about that and put an end to the arrangement, taking the implements for himself.
Fowler told the court he confronted George about it because they had put a lot of work into the project. He said George reacted with anger. Fowler admitted to calling the Highways department to report George for “screwing the road up” by hauling the farm equipment away. He testified George threatened to kill him saying, “I’ll bury you.”
After that, Fowler said, the harassment started with George ripping up the accused’s lawn with an ATV and chasing his horses. He said he did not confront George about it because he was afraid of him.
McCarthy questioned Folwer about a visit he received from Forestry officials in March 2017. As a result of that visit, Fowler said he started documenting George’s activities by taking pictures of wood he would haul back from the bush through the Fowler property.
Fowler recounted an incident in May 2o17 when he drove after George to get a picture of what was in the trailer. During the confrontation that followed, the defendant said, George choked him unconscious. Fowler reported it to police, but testified he didn’t believe anything was ever done about it.
At the behest of the Crown, Justice David Masuhara cautioned the jury that testimony about the police response to Fowler’s report was presented not for the truth of its content, but to establish the accused’s state of mind at the time.
After that incident, Fowler said, the harassment became more frequent and intense and he started taking other actions such as installing video surveillance cameras and carrying a firearm. He admitted that, at one point, he strung a wire across the road, although he said it was not intended to harm, was marked with flagging tape and that he regretted doing it.
The conflict came to head on Oct. 14 when Fowler shot the other man. According to the defence, as George was passing through Fowler’s property that day, he pulled out a long gun out and pointed it at the defendant. But Fowler also had a gun handy and fired twice.
On Monday, March 11, the trial continued with prosecutor Paul Backhouse cross-examining the accused about why, if he had acted in self-defence, he hadn’t reported the incident and why he had concealed the gun. Police never found the gun, although Fowler admits he knows where it is.
The cross-examination became bogged down Monday morning by McCarthy’s objections to the line of questioning as trying to elicit a negative impression of his client for not cooperating with police, something a defendant is not obligated to do.
On Tuesday, the jury had the day off as McCarthy and Backhouse made submissions to Masuhara regarding their positions on the case and what instructions will be presented to the 12 citizens who will ultimately decide Fowler’s guilt or innocence.
Final submissions will proceed at the courthouse on Alfred Avenue this morning at 10 a.m. If all goes according to plan, the justice will charge the jury on Thursday and hand the case over to them for deliberation. Watch The Interior News for updates and the verdict.