Trial, Week 2: Summary - July 17


WEEK 2: JULY 15 - 19, 1996

   * Day 5: Monday, July 15                * Day 8: Thursday, July 18
   * Day 6: Tuesday, July 16               * Day 9: Friday, July 19 
   * Day 7: Wednesday, July 17


Edited by Roz Royce and Trond Halle, from notes by Trond Halle (Defendant)

Posted by FreeMedia - see also FreeMedia's account of Week Two

FRIDAY, JULY 19, 1996 - DAY 9

Following an agreement in the courtroom to reduce the lunch break to an hour, Crown Counsel Jennifer Fawcus continued her questioning of Don James. The judge had to interrupt to ask the soft spoken witness to hold the microphone to his mouth so the jury could hear him. James sheepishly complied and told the court of the events on June 13, 1995 when he was asked by his father, Lyle James, to come with him and witness the reading of an eviction notice. Don named the ten cowhands that accompanied his father, his brother and himself and admitted that he didn't know why so many people were there that day. The police arrived at the intersection of the 1000 Forestry Road and Lakeshore Road, where his father and brother Dale spoke briefly with the officers before following them to the Gustafsen Lake lake shore. Don stayed behind with the cowboys and after a half hour, his father and brother returned without the police. Lyle James told him that they were going to serve the notice so they all drove to the camp.

The only reaction they got from two young natives when they were shown the notice was a shrug, so they decided to wait until Percy returned. Don explained that during their wait, the cowboys broke into groups and began looking around. When he and two others looked into the cook shack, he spotted the stove and said "that's ours. Take it." His brother and cowhand Lindsay Turnbull took the stove and the cabin door (also claimed as theirs) to their cow camp, while the rest of the cowboys sat around (some talking to the natives "like old friends.") He also described two men trying to make a bullwhip crack and admitted that he had a rifle in his truck which he claimed was only used for predators. This contradicted Lyle James' earlier testimony that there were no weapons with the eviction party.

Don continued that when Percy returned, he was with a woman (identified in the courtroom as Mary "Toby" Pena). Lyle James approached Percy with two ranch hands, followed by Dale James operating a video camera "off and on". Lyle read the trespass notice and then asked Percy if he would vacate, to which he replied no. Percy wouldn't take the notice and voices began to rise. Ernie Archie told James, "This is Indian land." Don replied by putting the notice on to the spear and walking away.

Don testified that the next time he was at the camp was during the June 17, 1995 meeting held at Gustafsen Lake. The three native RCMP officers Wood, Findley and Andrew were there, as was Band Councilor Keray Camille (married to Don's sister, Helen) and elected chiefs Antoine Archie and Agnes Snow. He described it as a round circle meeting where everyone was given a chance to speak in peace by Slitting the Sky, the spokesperson for the Sundancers. Other Sundance ground representatives were Percy Rosette, Mary Pena, Jones Ignace and Ernie Archie. Although everyone spoke, Don didn't feel anything had been accomplished at the meeting.

The next time Don saw the Sundance area was following the standoff when the RCMP gave him a tour of the camp and identified holes in the ground as foxholes. He also noted that the area was messy with debris (though he didn't tell the jury that the police had just ripped the area to shreds). He claimed that he never returned to the area until the spring of 1996 when he accompanied "chief of council" Antoine Archie and Staff Sgt. Sarich to the grounds and "took down the Arbor" with power saws, then set it on fire.

After the morning break without the jury present, the Defense complained to the judge about the Crown's disclosures. Azevedo stated "we are receiving sanitized police notes" and that today he received Cst. Findley's notes which were missing a number of pages.

Sheldon Tate reminded the judge that he had received disclosure last week in the middle of cross-examination. "We are completely fettered or hobbled", he stated and added that the late disclosures were making it appear as if the Defense was stretching things out on purpose. Tate concluded that "We can no longer have confidence in the Crown".

The jury and Don James returned and Harry Rankin began his cross-examination by urging James to make himself heard. "You speak louder to cattle don't you?" Rankin asked. "I'm not saying you're speaking with cattle now, but speak up, will you?" James then testified that on the day the trespass notice was served, he was "a bit' nervous about Percy Rosette and although he initially said the natives weren't nervous, upon reflection of Percy shifting from foot to foot during the encounter, he admitted that the natives may have been nervous too. He agreed that a feeling of distrust was developing between the cowboys and the natives. When Don insisted that the ten cowhands were there only to act as witnesses, Rankin cynically noted that "there are trespass notices given all the time. This must be the biggest trespass group ever."

When questioned about the holes around the camp the RCMP showed him following the standoff, he maintained that these were trenches. When asked why he believed that, he explained that this is what the RCMP and media said. Rankin asked if he was aware that the natives in that area wintered in earth homes - holes in the ground. Don wasn't aware of that, but knew of some Chinese who did the same by the river. He insisted though that the holes by the camp were defensive because Cst. Leslie had told him they were foxholes. Rankin intoned that if the newspapers didn't say it and if policemen didn't say it, "then God gave you a brain to think with." But James refused to believe the holes were anything but defensive.

Like his father, Don was prepared to believe that Lindsay Turnbull's horse hobbles had been stolen and that someone in the camp was causing the trouble. He also believed that the cow camp, from which the stove was allegedly stolen, was trashed "by them" though he wouldn't say who. He then described the burning of the Arbor following the standoff. He said three chiefs of the CaribooTribal Council and Staff Sgt. Sarich were there and remembered Chief Antoine Archie saying that the Arbor had to be burnt in a special way. His final admission to Rankin was that he didn't personally know of any trouble moving cattle from 1991 to 1994. The first and only trouble he had moving cattle was after June 1995 when police wouldn't let him into the Gustafsen Lake area.

When Sheldon Tate continued the cross-examination, Don remembered that some cattle had been moved after June, 1995. Cowhand Lindsay Turnbull and his wife had moved some cattle to pasture right along the lake front. He also remembered noticing the cow camp stove missing years before but conceded that they never reported it to the police. One of his cowhands, Ron Tenale, had even seen the stove in the winter of 1993 or 1994 when he spent a cold night in Percy's cookhouse cabin but the stove wasn't an issue until they noticed it while serving the eviction notice.

Don downplayed other events during the notice serving like the bullwhip cracking. He claimed Scott Bernard and Larry Hine were only playing with it and although he didn't use a whip himself nor did any of the men in the eviction party, he claimed that some cowboys do use whips to move cattle. When shown a copy of the eviction notice, Don claimed there was a piece missing at the bottom which instructed Lyle to observe the reactions of the natives when he served it.

He couldn't recall when he first saw the complete notice but suspects it was several months earlier. Regardless, Don was certain that there was no note or instruction to remove the natives by force. When asked if he sought permission to enter the cabin on June 13th, Don explained that he felt he had a right to enter because the cabin was on their property. He also felt he had the right to go into the camp tents though he claims he never did so himself. Don admitted that he had never gone into any camper's tents in the past although one time he and his hands barged into the trailer of a man with whom they were "having trouble with". He couldn't remember if permission was sought then either. When Percy eventually returned to the camp that day, Don never asked Percy if he had received the stove from a legitimate source. "It was common knowledge it was there and Lindsay Turnbull needed a stove."

The jury had a good laugh again when George Wool began cross-examining Don James by asking if he could hear him. The judge dryly remarked that the "people across the street could hear" Wool's bellowing questions. Don spoke of the importance of Lot 114 to the cattle operations noting its central location, but admitted they never did build any structures there. Wool then asked Don to clarify who does the hiring and firing at the ranch and suggested "It's your father that's the ultimate terminator." This got the jury laughing again and Don had to agree. The judge tried not to laugh. Don was defensive about allegations made by Cpl. Hicks in his note book regarding June 13, 1995. He didn't remember Hicks telling his father not to hurt anyone nor the police telling Lyle to get a court order. He claimed his father never called the RCMP chicken but admitted his own frustration with the RCMP when they went back to town instead of supporting the cowboys. He testified that his father had wished the RCMP would assist him in evicting the people in the camp. "I didn't see why they wouldn't come in with us", Don recalled.

Wool then asked for the video taken by Dale James on June 13th to be shown in the courtroom. Wool paused the video often to ask questions and Don identified the land in the film as being Lot 114 and admitted that the newly erected barb wire fence west of the Sundance grounds was the straw that broke the camel's back and caused the most controversy. As the video progressed, the jury watched Lyle James walk up to two native youths in their early 20's and hand them the trespass notice. Wool had Don remind the jury that there were ten cowhands standing behind James and the video camera at the time. The video then showed a native man that Don identified as Ernie Archie. Don remembered Archie pointing to a spear and then saying "Don't touch this spear. You'll be sick. You'll die." The video revealed the conversation that followed after Percy was read the notice. Percy spoke Shuswap and Mary Pena translated. "This is Indian land," he said. Lyle James replied, "No it isn't." Percy asked, "Who are you?" "Lyle James." "You're a white man," Percy replied, "This is Indian land." Don is then seen putting the notice on the spear. When Wool asked him further about the incident, Don admitted that no one in the camp threatened or challenged them physically. He denied knowing that there was going to be a disagreement about who owned the land. When asked if he or his father ever spoke about surveying Lot 114 in the summer of 1995, Don silently stared at his hands for thirty seconds before answering no.

   * Day 5: Monday, July 15                * Day 8: Thursday, July 18
   * Day 6: Tuesday, July 16               * Day 9: Friday, July 19 
   * Day 7: Wednesday, July 17