LETHBRIDGE – “I’m not saying you’re a bad policeman, but on that [morning] you dropped the ball.”
Defence lawyer Michael Dietrich made the statement to Lethbridge Police Service Cst. Keon Woronuk Wednesday, May 16, in the manslaughter trial of Jillian Across the Mountain.
It was in reference to how Woronuk and Cst. Nicole Arvay responded to a disturbance at Frances "Candy" Little Light’s west side apartment on the morning of Feb. 7, 2016, hours before she was found dead there.
The two officers responded to a complaint of a woman banging on doors in the hallway of the apartment building and yelling. He noted that Across the Mountain – who was living with Little Light at the time – answered the door and was very polite and cooperative. In contrast, he said Little Light appeared to be highly intoxicated and belligerent towards them but strongly disagreed with suggestions from the defence that she was threatening.
“She was barely capable of walking,” said Woronuk. “She presented zero threat. I don’t think she could have harmed Cst. Arvay or myself if she wanted to.”
Woronuk acknowledged that they didn’t speak to other tenants of the apartment building after dealing with Little Light – the source of Dietrich’s criticism – saying because the disturbance in the hallway had ended and she was back in her residence there was no need or recourse to arrest Little Light. He added that he did not observe any signs of violence between the two or any reason to fear for their safety.
Cause of death
The focus in the afternoon shifted to the autopsy report for Little Light, conducted and prepared by medical examiner, Dr. Tera Jones.
“She died as a result of multiple stab wounds… she lost a lot of blood,” explained Jones, when asked for a cause of death. Later, during cross examination, she acknowledged that one wound to Little Light’s left arm was likely the only one that would have been fatal on its own. The other two were located on the victim’s back but did not impact any internal organs or major blood vessels.
Jones explained that the stab wound to Little Light’s arm – just over 12 cm in depth – cut the brachial artery, and that she likely had less than 10 minutes to live after sustaining the injury.
In reviewing the toxicology report, she noted that Little Light’s blood/alcohol concentration was more than three-times the legal driving limit in Alberta but said it did not contribute to her death.
During Jones’ cross examination, Dietrich asked if Little Light’s wounds could be the result of two people “grappling over a knife,” to which Jones replied, “It’s a possibility.” She also agreed that the lethal stab wound to Little Light’s arm was not something she typically sees.
The trial is set to resume Thursday morning.
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