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Native man’s killing ‘should never have happened,’ Crown argues

According to the prosecutor, Jon Styres ‘tried to steal Peter Khill’s truck from the driveway’ of his home on Highway 56 in a quasi-rural area on the outskirts of Hamilton

The death of Jon Styres was “a killing that never should have happened,” Crown prosecutor James Nadel told a jury Tuesday.

Nadel was making his opening statement in the second-degree murder trial of Peter Khill, who is pleading not guilty but who has admitted, through his lawyer, that on Feb. 4, 2016, he twice shot the 29-year-old Styres, a First Nations man from the nearby Six Nations reserve, and caused his death.

According to the prosecutor, Styres “tried to steal Peter Khill’s truck from the driveway” of his home on Highway 56 in a quasi-rural area on the outskirts of Hamilton.

Nadel didn’t say so directly, but the prosecution theory of the case suggests that they believe it was a clear contest between Styres’ life and Khill’s 15-year-old pickup, and that Khill intentionally chose badly.

Peter Khill, accused of killing Jon Styres, leaves Hamilton’s John Sopinka Courthouse during a break in jury selection, Monday June 11, 2018. Peter J. Thompson/National Post

But it was about 3 in the morning, and while Ontario Superior Court Judge Stephen Glithero and the jurors haven’t heard much evidence yet — the trial just began this week — already they have been repeatedly told how the area was in almost total darkness.

Khill’s house sat on one side of a country highway with no street lighting and no development to lend ambient lighting.

The first Hamilton Police Service officer on the scene, Const. Jeffery Hahn, testified Tuesday that, when he arrived, he overshot the address because of the darkness and that the only light at the house was on the front porch, and by comparison it was almost blinding.

Whatever Khill may or may not have been able to see that early morning when he leaped from his bed, clad only in underwear, Nadel said forensic experts will testify that the muzzle of his Remington 12-gauge shotgun “was less than 12 feet from Jon’s chest.”

The prosecutor said that, after being awakened in the wee hours that day, Khill grabbed the shotgun, loaded it and fired once. “Then he racked it, chambered it and fired a second time. Two shots, two hits.”

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