“I don’t remember.
“I don’t recall.
“Like I said, I was drinking.”
Those were the responses a visibly irritated Sasha Cayen, 29, gave to defence lawyer Alan Regel, as he attempted to unfurl the night, five years ago, that cost Alex Norwegian, 25, his life.
Norwegian was found beaten and frozen in his vandalized car near Hay River in December 2017, just days after Christmas.
Sasha has already stood trial and pleaded guilty to manslaughter for her part in Norwegian’s death. She was sentenced to 43 months in January 2019. She’s now out of custody.
On Monday, she testified in NWT Supreme Court in Yellowknife in the jury trial of her cousin, Levi Cayen, 24, who’s accused of murdering Alex Norwegian in the first degree.
Sasha appeared via video link from another floor in the courthouse, wearing a hooded sweatshirt with her thick hair thrown back.
She yawned, coughed, slumped, and at one point rolled her eyes during the cross-examination.
Undeterred, Regel, in his trademark booming candour, worked patiently with Sasha to piece together what exactly happened that night, and most importantly: Was the murder of Alex Norwegian planned?
Earlier in the trial, the jury heard that Sasha was at the home of James Thomas with Tyler Cayen, both her cousins, on Dec. 26, 2017. A daily drug user, Sasha had been up for days at this point. Another cousin joined them and they drank and smoked crack until they ran out.
Jim then drove Sasha to pick $60-worth of crack from Alex Norwegian.
About an hour later, Alex texted Sasha and asked for her help to get his car out of a snowbank.
Sasha, Jim, and Tyler helped Alex. He gave them $10 cash and small rock of crack for their trouble.
The trio then returned to Jim’s and a few hours later, Levi Cayen arrived with a three-litre bottle of vodka.
As the crew got drunker and the crack Alex gave them was long gone, the topic of robbing him started to surface.
“It’s almost uncontrollable when you have a craving for crack?” Regel asked Sasha, reiterating a description she had provided earlier in the trial.
“Pretty much,” she sighed.
Regel’s cross-examination focused heavily on the text messages on Sasha’s phone. Both parties looked over a thick stack of printouts of text logs.
To start, Sasha confirmed she sent the texts that were found on her phone and to the best of her knowledge, none had been deleted.
The text messages painted a grim portrait of a chaotic night centred on scoring crack; a group of scattered users growing increasingly drunk and desperate, running out of money and suppliers.
“Make that can” Sasha texted one of her co-accused, referring to a smoking device. “I need a hoot FFS,” – an acronym meaning ‘For f**** sake.’
Texts showed that around 11:30 p.m. Sasha attempted to pick up crack from Alex for a second time.
“I (have) the cash. Just going to town now. Where do you want to meet?”
Sasha admitted in court she wasn’t heading into town.
You were getting desperate, no place to go, out of cash, and that’s when they enacted “the plan?” suggested Regel.
“My plan?” Sasha lunged forward toward the courtroom camera. “He (Alex) was the one who picked the place — not me!”
“The plan to jack Alex,” Regel reminded her, was in place.
“It must have been,” Sasha sighed.
“As the cravings got stronger, did the idea seem better and better?” Regel queried Sasha.
Again, she couldn’t say for certain.
Sasha saw Alex three times that night but still, to this day, she’s not sure what exactly happened, she said.
The trial of Levi Cayen for the murder of Alex Norwegian is expected to go another four weeks.