Court hears from RCMP in Learn trial

A brief day of proceedings as crown and defence counsel solicit testimony from two RCMP members.

It was a brief day of testimony in front of Justice Dev Dley on Friday for the fourth day of the Cheyenne Learn trial in  Cranbrook Supreme Court.

Two members of the RCMP testified under questioning from crown counsel, with defence counsel also completing cross-examinations.

Learn is on trial for second-degree murder in the shooting death of Tammy Ellis in December 2007. He was convicted of second-degree murder in 2009, but an appeal overturned the decision in 2013 and he was awarded a new trial.

Crown counsel Lianna Swanson began the proceedings by examining Const. Travis Dow, who was on scene and collecting evidence at the residence where the shooting on Dec. 17th, 2007.

After testimony from Dow, the court also heard from Cpl. Philip Sullivan, the officer who arrested Learn at a family member’s house a day after the shooting occurred.

Defence counsel Brent Bagnall also cross-examined both witnesses.

Sullivan’s testimony centred on the night of the shooting and the events of the next day.

Sullivan, who works with Police Dog Services, was called out to the residence the night of the shooting and cleared the house. After securing the scene, he said he searched the surrounding properties.

The next day, Sullivan attended a scene on 4th street behind the B.C. Liquor store, a few city blocks away from the shooting, where a civilian passerby found a firearm that was later identified to be the same one used in the shooting.

Later in the afternoon, Sullivan observed Learn walking into the home of a family member. Roughly 10 minutes later, Learn and two other people left the house and got into a van.

Sullivan testified he made the decision to pull up and stop the van before it left the property to avert a potential police chase.

After announcing his presence, Sullivan asked Learn to exit the vehicle.

Learn complied and was promptly arrested.

It took roughly four minutes for officers from a Major Crimes Unit to arrive and take custody of Learn, according to Sullivan.

Within those four minutes, he testified that Learn was “downtrodden” and was acting “like he’d given up,” but was also very co-operative.

“He was calm, collected, a pleasure to deal with,” Sullivan said, also noting that Learn did not show any signs of intoxication.

Defence counsel cross-examined Sullivan on subjects ranging from his routine in working with the police dog to the weather on the night of the shooting and the following day.

Sullivan testified that the dog was not being used for a particular task and was not actively tracking anything directly after the shooting or the following day.

He also testified about the weather and road conditions, noting that there was snow on the ground and that roads were slick.

Dow, who was first up on the witness stand in the morning, testified that he attended the scene where the civilian passerby found the firearm and assisted a fellow officer in taking photos and gathering evidence.

He went over those images of the firearm with Crown counsel, which was found sticking out barrel-first from the snow.

Dow later attended the scene of the shooting, where he catalogued and collected evidence such as drug paraphernalia—including marijuana, baggies containing cocaine residue and a spoon used for cooking crack cocaine—as well as two live shotgun shells.

Dow also testified about damage to the back door and door frame of the residence and noted that the deadbolt lock was broken.

Under cross-examination, Dow said that it had snowed through the night and that the day was cold and chilly and that there was no dramatic change in the weather.

In regard to the residence of the shooting, Bagnall questioned Dow’s earlier testimony of it being cluttered, noting that every room—save for the living room which Ellis used as a bedroom—was relatively tidy.

The trial will resume with more testimony on Monday.


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