Accused teen killer's lawyers attempt to shift blame
Ashlee Hyatt’s accused killer was portrayed by her defence lawyer Monday as a new girl trying to find her place among tight-knit partying peers, when things went terribly awry.
On day two of the 18-year-old’s second degree murder and assault causing bodily harm trial, defence lawyers attempted to take the focus off the accused, and put some of it on one of the alleged victims who took the stand.
The now 20-year-old alleged victim of assault was called to the stand to speak about events of June 2, 2010, that ended with her sustaining a knife gash in one of her arms, cuts to her hands and scratches to her face.
She testified she was attacked after Hyatt had already been fatally wounded, unaware of how things had gone so wrong or that anything had happened to her long-time friend at all.
She recalled that the night started when she and four other friends, including the accused, had gone four-by-fouring in the Glenrosa area.
The alleged victim, the accused and another teenage girl drank freely from a bottle of Wiser’s whiskey, and two boys they were with drank beer.
That lasted until just after 6 p.m. when they all decided to go to their San Clemente Avenue house to continue partying. Upon arrival, they met up with her younger sister and Hyatt.
“Everyone’s behaviour was good,” she told the jury, noting she and the carload who went in tow, were feeling the effects of the drinks they’d been into, while her sister and Hyatt weren’t drinking at all.
And, while things started well-enough, conflict erupted when the accused kissed a boy at the party.
An argument was sparked, and it ultimately moved outside of the house onto the street, when a friend of the alleged victim’s mother went to the house to put a stop to the party.
“I ran inside and started cleaning,” she told the jury. “I’m not supposed to have people over.”
From there, her memories were vague as she was admittedly “pretty drunk,” but she remembers gathering her purse and going outside. “I saw (the accused) standing (in the street) with a knife in her hands,” she said, under questioning by Crown counsel Murray Kaay, adding that when asked later, she remembered nothing of what the knife looked like.
She testified that she went up to the accused and said, “Give me the knife.”
She resisted, and the two got into a fight. “I tried to grab (the knife) with my hands,” the witness testified.
It’s unclear who intervened on the alleged victim’s behalf, but she said the knife was removed by a third party at some point.
It was also during that scuffle that she said she took note of the fact that Hyatt was lying on the gravel with two people assisting her.
Defence, however, contended that the situation was far less innocent and more akin to a well entrenched clique ganging up on the accused when things went sideways.
To get there, they highlighted inconsistencies in the victim’s testimony, and made a straightforward attack on her character.
That started with lawyers sussing out the nature of their relationships.
When asked, the witness conceded that she’d only known the accused for a couple of months, although she characterized them as friends.
Hyatt, who died that night, had been her friend for years.
The alleged victim was then asked if she was a “big party girl.” She testified that wasn’t the case. She drank and partied, “like any teenager.”
Then she and the jury were handed a bundle of photos taken from her Facebook account, where she was depicted drinking and smoking pot in a variety of settings.
Several run-ins with police for drinking in public were also highlighted.
The fatal 2010 party, defence said, wasn’t the first time that there were parties at the Peachland house that ended in police action either, citing two other examples.
Then there was the knife. In one statement to police, the alleged victim didn’t mention a knife.
In another, she made it sound like she was very familiar.
At the end of the day’s testimony, defence said the knife was actually from her home, and had the DNA of another known associate on it.
It’s a slight departure from the narrative Crown Counsel laid out in his opening statements.
Kaay told the jury of six men and six women, they’d hear evidence throughout the next two weeks that would highlight how Hyatt, 16, got in a fatal “confrontation, argument, and subsequent fight” with the accused.
The name of the 18-year-old accused and her alleged victim is protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.