Kelowna murder trial witness revisits earlier testimony

Witness Taylor Henderson changes his recollection of events surrounding the shooting death of Evan Wilkes.

Testimony from Trevor Shannon’s original murder trial is coming under fire.

Some witnesses of the 2007 Kelowna house party where Evan Wilkes, 18, was shot in the head, are backing down from the positions they held in the aftermath of the fatal altercation.

“Did you know Curtis Blanchette gave a new statement to police (Wednesday) morning, where he admitted he lied at the previous trial?” Shannon’s defence lawyer, Brent Bagnall, asked witness Taylor Henderson.

Henderson, who was the host of the April 2007 party on Vimy Avenue, said he didn’t know his friend had recanted his testimony about the night Wilkes died.

However, under subsequent questioning from Bagnall, he acknowledged some of what he, personally, had said in the hours and days after the crime may have been speculative.

Reading from a Daily Courier story published three days after Wilkes’s death, lawyer Bagnall asked Henderson to acknowledge discrepancies between it and what he offered while on the stand Thursday.

Referring to the gun Shannon pulled out at the party, Wilkes had told the Courier: “Everyone thought it was a pellet gun…we all tell him to leave.”

“Did you believe it was a pellet gun?” said Bagnall, pointing out that Henderson testified Thursday that he recognized the weapon to be real.

“No sir,” said Henderson.

Bagnall then read more from the 2007 story: “(Shannon) knew what he was a going to do, it was total intent.”

This week Henderson claimed no insight into Shannon’s actions, and explained his past words as a product of the feelings sparked by losing a friend.

“I was pretty angry at the time,” he said.

He also pointed out that he didn’t remember doing the newspaper interview at all, nor could he attest to the veracity of the report.

“I was pretty angry at the time, the questions could have been taken out of context…and I was in a vulnerable position,” he said.

Although his past words may have been tainted by emotion, Henderson was steadfast in his current recollection of the facts.

Under Crown counsel Duncan Campbell’s questioning, Henderson recalled that Shannon and several other friends showed up at the party uninvited—although they did know one house guest—and managed to get into trouble shortly after they arrived.

A teenager named Parker Burrows and one of Shannon’s friends had got into a scuffle, and Shannon had interceded, said Henderson.

“Shannon came up against the fridge and held a gun against Parker Burrow’s head,” he said.

The gun was being held horizontally toward Burrows, while Shannon’s left hand was on Burrows’ chest.

Once that confrontation stopped just before 1 a.m., the party moved to the driveway as Shannon’s group were ousted.

From afar, Henderson said he remembers seeing Wilkes, his friend, standing outside by the entry way to the courtyard.

He couldn’t hear anything being said, but he did see Shannon appear from the darkness, “briefly, quick in front of (Wilkes).”

He then retreated into the kitchen, having decided that earlier gunplay had shown the party had gone out of control and it was time to call 911.

That’s when he heard a “big, loud boom.”

“Just as I was grabbing the phone, I turned around and looked outside and (Wilkes) was just lying there,” he said.

He went outside and saw Shannon standing there “yelling for friends” who had already sped away in their own vehicle, he said, leaving Shannon behind.

Shannon started “speed walking” away, as Henderson said he and another person followed in pursuit. “I was frantic, my instincts took over and I didn’t want him to get away,” he said.

Shannon acknowledged he was being trailed, and turned around and held a gun toward the pair.

“How did that make you feel?” asked Campbell.

“Not good,” said Henderson, describing Shannon’s face as “straight” and emotionless.

As the pursuit happened, police came upon the scene.

First to arrive was Const. Heaton, who arrived to chaos.

“There were several people in the middle of the road,” she said. “Girls were crying, guys were trying to comfort them and pointing to the area on the street.”

She followed their direction and came upon Wilkes, who was lying alone less than a foot away from the house’s garage, with a towel wrapped around his head.

“He started begging me to help him,” she said, noting the towel was bloody.

“He said, ‘Please help me, don’t let me die,’” she said.

Heaton said she pulled back the towel and saw there was a hole in the side of the teenager’s head and a “wound track” along his head.

She then turned him onto his side, to make sure his airway remained clear.

He vomited once, and the smell of alcohol was “very evident” there and from his breath.

Paramedics arrived on the scene within 15 minutes. Wilkes was transported to the hospital and subsequently died from his injuries.

Further witness testimony is scheduled to continue next week.

Kelowna Capital News