April 26, 1997 ... Surrey, B.C.
Yesterday was the second day for summations to the jury at the Gustafsen Lake trial.
George Wool was the first to address the jury on this day. He defends four of the accused. They are Grant Michael Archie, Brent Shadow Potulicki, Trond Fred Halle and Joseph Adam Ignace, and they are all charged with three counts, which include wilfully committing mischief by obstructing, interrupting, or interfering with the lawful use, enjoyment, or operation of property; and did commit forcible detainer of the real property of Lyle James; and did have weapons in their possession.
One of these four accused, Joseph Adam Ignace, is also charged with eight other counts, the most serious of which these is attempted murder of a police officer.
Mr. Wool pointed out to the jury that there is really only one issue in this trial, and that is whether or not the prosecution has proven the charges against the accused beyond a reasonable doubt. "Who was in possession?" he asked. He asked the jury to examine whether there is any evidence that any one of his clients had been in possession of a firearm. He said "This is a serious, serious matter."
Mr. Wool told the jury that the judge brings the law to a trial, lawyers bring arguments and submissions, and the jury brings common sense; "You bring common sense to what I call this 'theatre of truth.'"
"Common sense - Would you give your car keys to Joseph Ignace", he asked the jury.
Mr. Wool explained to the jury that Joseph Ignace operates at the level of a six-year old. He told the jury that Joseph Ignace suffers from 'fetal alcohol syndrome', and that if he was found in the area of Gustafsen Lake, he was not there to interfere with Lyle James' property.
"I have lost count," he said. "There have been over 100 witnesses. Some told the truth and the whole truth." He gave an example of one constable who testified, and whom Mr. Wool did not cross-examine. He pointed out to the jury that there was no need to cross-examine this witness because the witness had told the truth. He compared that to the testimony of Sergeant Montague, who, only when the tapes came out, admitted to having said that he had discussed such things as putting out "smear campaigns" and disinformation against people in the camp. "He was not telling the truth", Mr. Wool said.
Mr. Wool continued by saying that Joseph Ignace was not guilty of a single thing. In fact, Joseph Ignace was not even at the Gustafsen Lake encampment on August 18, 1995.
Mr. Wool reminded the jury of the circumstances surrounding Joseph Ignace's interrogation by police. Mr. Wool said that after two hours of questioning Joseph Ignace, the officers stripped him of his clothes right down to his underware. He said the officers were not honest when they said "Jo Jo" - as Joseph Ignace is often called - appeared normal. Mr. Wool said of Jo Jo, "He can operate in public, but just barely."
Mr. Wool said that Joseph Ignace was at his home in Chase, British Columbia on August 18th when the shooting incident, which resulted in the attempted murder charge against him, occured. Mr. Wool reminded the jurors of the telephone call to the Ignace residence the day before the incident and that Joseph Ignace had answered the phone. When someone asked him where his dad was, he replied that his dad was in Morely, Alberta. Mr. Wool reminded the jury that telephone records had been introduced as evidence that showed that a call had been made.
Mr. Wool told the jurors that the crown would probably suggest that Joseph Ignace had jumped in a car and driven up to Gustafsen Lake, took a shot and then drove back to his home in Chase. Mr. Wool reminded the jury that there had never been any evidence to show that Joseph Ignace had ever driven a car.
Mr. Wool said "After two hours stripped down to his underwear, denials were not working, 'I don't know' wasn't working, ... there are doubts about what he said, where he was and his mental state of mind."
"What about the two officers" Mr. Wool asked. "If they were honest, they would have recorded the interview." Mr. Wool said. He told the jury "Be suspicious."
Mr. Wool went on the tell the jury that Joseph Ignace has an alibi and that a statement he gave the police is unreliable.
Mr. Wool then reminded the jury of evidence relating to the incident itself. He said that Constable Wilby, who Joseph Ignace is accused of having shot at with the intent to commit murder, was sneaking through the bush with four other officers. Wilby said he saw a figure and heard the person say something in a native dialect.
"Here's something interesting" Mr. Wool said.
Mr. Wool explained that somebody in the camp, somebody with knowledge of horses, "somebody with intellect" noticed that the horses had sensed something. "It could not have been Joseph Ignace" Mr. Wool said. Mr. Wool explained that whoever noticed the horses, must have been a hunter, a stalker, someone who "knew how to hunt". The person went there to see what is was that the horses had sensed. Someone in the camp reported to the police that there were six to eight men in the bush dressed in camouflage clothing.
Whoever it was, did not shoot at Ray Wilby, Mr. Wool surmised. Mr. Wool theorized that if the person had intended to kill Ray Wilby, the person would not have come out into the open and allowed himself to be heard. Mr. Wool said "It's dumb. It's reasonable doubt."
Mr. Wool said that through no fault of his own, Joseph Ignace suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome, and that is the only way the police got a statement from him.
Mr. Wool asked "What started all this?" He said that this is "good old boy red-neck country. When something goes wrong, blame the indians." He said the attitude is "Get these indians off the land!" He said that this entire incident was a "grandstand, self-created crisis". Mr. Wool said that the police and the media never got on the news and said "sorry for all the mistakes in the last month."
Mr. Wool pointed out that the R.C.M.P. loaded up an aircraft with media people - "this is the mainstream media" - and took them up to Gustafsen Lake. He said that Percy Rosette was described as a "militant and terrorist".
Mr. Wool said that for the R.C.M.P. the media became more important than the investigation. "Police gave the media Percy Rosette's phone number." He said that the person who shot at the R.C.M.P. was dressed in camouflage clothing. He said that it was to "start up the machine to make a self-created crisis, and that they did." He continued on to say that it was a massive event to make the attorney general look good that the R.C.M.P. "were doing something."
Mr. Wool told the jury that the event was exaggerated and that the investigation was tainted. He said there was media manipulation and the media was part of it. He said: "A journalist knows that when he hooks on to an officer, he always has a story." He called it "One great big show!"
He went on to point out that his client, Trond Halle, was not there to obstruct anything, he was there to get a story. Mr. Wool pointed to Trond Halle - who has spent all his time in court recording the entire trial on a laptop computer - and asked the jury if the police saw him with a weapon. He said that Trond could not have operated his computer or a video camera while firing a weapon.
Mr. Wool pointed to Grant Archie, and said, "He's been here every day like you." He told the jury that the most the police have on him is that he is heard to say, "I just finished a shift." Mr. Wool pointed out that he had a right to be there, people have the right to friendship and to go fishing.
Mr. Wool turned to Brent Potulicki and asked the jury "What did he do?" "Nothing" Mr. Wool said that all Mr. Potulicki did was drive into camp. "Don't native people have friends" Mr. Wool asked. Mr. Wool put out the challenge: "Show me the weapon. He must have been doing something. Maybe he was sitting around doing nothing."
Mr. Wool concluded his summation by telling the jury that there is much to doubt in this trial. He told the jury to be the judges, to notice all the doubts in this trial, and to find "not guilty, not guilty." And he thanked them for hanging in there.
(Copyright Noreen Gale ... you may pass this on without editing)
Canada Speaking Freely - CANSPEAK