The second-degree murder trial of a Fort Good Hope man began in Yellowknife Monday.
Twenty-six-year-old Colten McNeely is accused of killing Lloyd Edgi, 28, in the early hours of Sept. 3, 2017 in the Sahtu community of Fort Good Hope.
Delivering opening remarks in NWT Supreme Court, prosecutor Jill Andrews said the Crown intends to prove Edgi, who leaves behind a partner and two young children, died from a “stab wound to the heart” inflicted by McNeely after the two “came together violently.”
Const. Brandon Barton and Const. Christopher Prospero, RCMP members formerly stationed in Fort Good Hope, were the first officers to arrive at the scene.
Both testified Monday.
Barton, now posted in Yellowknife, said he received a call around 3:45 a.m. about intoxicated people in the backyard of a residence. Minutes later, he said another call came in — someone had been stabbed.
Barton, then the on-call officer in the community of about 600 people, said he went to pick up Prospero for backup. As he arrived at Prospero’s house, Barton said he received a third call, this time from McNeely.
McNeely told him he had been beaten up by Edgi, Barton testified.
Barton said the two Mounties then drove to the site of the initial complaint, house 312 in Fort Good Hope, where they found Edgi laying in a yard beside the house — bloodied and motionless — around 4 a.m.
“He had blood all over him,” said Barton. He told the court Edgi, whose shirt was lifted up, had a large laceration on his left pectoral. Barton said he tried and failed to find a pulse on Edgi.
Two “hysterical” civilians, who waved the Mounties down for help, were already at the scene, Barton testified.
Barton said he located a knife about 10 feet away from Edgi’s body — buried blade first in the ground.
Prospero testified that by the time he and Barton responded to the yard where Edgi was, the victim was no longer bleeding. His wounds were covered in dried blood, Prospero said.
Two nurses from the regional health centre arrived shortly after, the court heard. They were unable to detect a heartbeat. Edgi was pronounced dead at approximately 4:15 a.m.
Mountie recalls breaking tragic news to family
Sgt. Wendy Sparrow was the Fort Good Hope RCMP detachment commander at the time. She testified Monday. Sparrow, who joined Barton and Prospero at the scene just after 4 a.m., said she went to Edgi’s home later that morning, where she broke the tragic news to his grandmother.
His partner wasn’t home at the time. Sparrow said she crossed paths with her while driving away from Edgi’s home.
She was told Edgi had died. “She broke down and started crying on the road,” said Sparrow, who recalled trying to console Edgi’s partner as best she could.
“She started running in the direction of where Lloyd’s body was.” Sparrow said she had to radio to an officer at the scene, who prevented Edgi’s partner from entering the area.
“She crumbled to the ground – very, very emotional,” remembered Sparrow.
Around 10:30 a.m. that same morning – some six hours after the initial call – Sparrow said she was notified that McNeely had called the RCMP detachment in Fort Good Hope, wanting to speak about an incident that happened the night before.
McNeely, already a suspect in the death of Edgi, agreed to attend the detachment, and RCMP members devised an arrest plan, Sparrow testified.
McNeely, who was “very upset,” was arrested at the detachment, she said. Apart from a scratch on his leg, McNeely showed no signs of being injured and appeared to be sober, said Sparrow.
After McNeely attended the RCMP detachment, Const. Prospero said he arrested the accused, later taking a statement from him. He said he observed some scratches on McNeely’s hands.
Prospero didn’t recall seeing marks on McNeely’s leg.
On Sept. 12, RCMP executed a search warrant at McNeely’s shack, not far from where Edgi’s body was found, the court heard. Police were looking for a knife sheath, but failed to find it.
Thirteen more Crown witnesses are expected to be called to testify during the two-week, judge-alone trial.
Civilians, RCMP officers and an expert witness – the pathologist who performed the autopsy on Edgi – are expected to take the stand.
Evidence presented at the trial will include forensic findings, text messages from both McNeely and Edgi and video and photographs from the scene of the homicide, Andrews told the court Monday.
The alleged murder weapon, a knife, will also be presented as evidence during the trial, said Andrews.