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Accused admits shooting victim, but says it was self-defence

·5 min read

On Day 8 of his second-degree murder trial, Justin Breau took the stand and admitted to shooting Mark Shatford on Nov. 17, 2019.

While the Crown has painted a picture of a "drug ripoff" gone bad, Breau told the court that he went to buy drugs from Shatford and his fiancée, Melissa Daley, when he was suddenly attacked by Shatford.

Breau said he thought Shatford was going to kill him when he pulled the trigger.

His testimony differed from that of four other people who were in the apartment at 321 Duke St. West at the time of the incident.

Breau, 37, said he was at home with his mother and daughter on Nov. 16, 2019 and had fallen asleep in his room. He said he was awakened by a woman he had been seeing and the two of them drove to Rockwood Park before going to a "drug house" on Peter Street.

He said the "establishment", which he compared to an after-hours bar, ran out of drugs. He said they waited around with several other people for the stock to be replenished, when he got a message from Daley's Facebook account through Messenger. It was a hand-wave emoji.

Submitted by Debra Shatford
Submitted by Debra Shatford

Breau texted back asking if they had any "raw" — slang for pure cocaine.

She responded by saying she only had "cut," which Breau described as a weaker form of cocaine, as a result of other substances added to it.

The two texted back and forth and eventually settled on two grams of "cut" in exchange for 15 zopiclone pills and $70 cash.

When she testified earlier this week, Daley said it wasn't her sending the messages from her account. She said it must have been Shatford. She said the two were both in bed watching a movie together at the time.

One of the last messages sent from Daley's Facebook account was that the door was open.

Breau said he had gone to 321 Duke St. West 30 or 40 times since the summer of 2018 — specifically to buy drugs. He said his preference was pure cocaine. Sometimes he paid cash, sometimes he traded zopiclone pills — often referred to as zops — and sometimes he didn't pay at all.

Breau told the court that he had racked up a drug debt to Daley and Shatford of about $1,000, but had managed to get it down to $700 at the time of the shooting.

Roger Cosman/CBC
Roger Cosman/CBC

Breau said he arrived at 4:20 a.m., made his way through the apartment, and knocked on the door of the master bedroom.

Breau said he heard the chain lock being slid across and when the door opened, Shatford was standing there with Daley a few feet behind him.

He said Shatford grabbed his $100 bill, reminded him of the money owed, and said Breau wasn't going to get anything that night.

Breau testified that when he tried to grab the money back, Shatford hit him in the head with a long, shiny metal object. He said Shatford hit him two more times before he managed to get away.

He said he fled the apartment, but that Shatford caught up to him on the stairs and hit him again in the back, causing him to fall down the stairs.

Breau said he went as quickly as he could to the car he borrowed from his friend, who he identified as Angie Snodgrass.

Breau said he dropped the keys as he got to the vehicle. He said he thought about opening the first door he came to and just jumping in and locking the doors, but he said he knew Shatford had a temper and worried that the would smash his way into the vehicle, drag him into the street "and beat me to death."

So, instead, he reached in and grabbed a shotgun that he said he hadn't known was there until he opened the door.

He said Shatford was in the midpoint of swinging the long metal object, described by other witnesses as a torque or socket wrench, when he pulled the trigger.

Breau said the wrench "went ting, ting, ting on the ground" as it fell from Shatford's hand.

He said Shatford took a few steps back and slowly fell to the ground.

Roger Cosman/CBC
Roger Cosman/CBC

That's when he grabbed the car keys he had dropped, jumped in and drove away. He said one of the two men who went with him was in the vehicle, but he doesn't know what happened to the other man.

Under cross-examination, Crown prosecutor Joanne Park asked Breau if he knew what a "drug rip off" is.

Breau laughed and said he didn't really know.

Park explained that it's when someone sets up a drug deal, but then, instead of going through with the deal when they meet up, the prospective buyer robs the dealer.

Breau interrupted Park's explanation and said he "never heard of that."

At the end of her questioning, Park suggested to Breau that it was a drug rip off and that Shatford "was just trying to get you out of the house."

Breau didn't answer directly but said, "You're trying to put words in my mouth."

Breau was the only witness called by defence lawyer Brian Munro before he closed his case on Friday afternoon.

The jury will be back in court on Tuesday afternoon for final arguments from the Crown and defence. Mr. Justice Thomas Christie told the jurors to expect to receive final instructions from him Wednesday morning. Before they start deliberating, however, one of the 13 jurors will be selected at random and dismissed. The law only allows 12 jurors to deliberate.