Sonya Shikhman indicated that her client’s defence will stand on the testimony of three witnesses
Myles Hughes’ lawyer says her client used a gun to defend himself and several friends from violent intruders who invaded his home on March 2010.
Those remarks incapsulated the stance of Hughes’ defence lawyer, Sonya Shikhman, during her opening address to a Belleville jury Wednesday.
Shikhman indicated that her client’s defence will stand on the testimony of three witnesses, who she expected will “complete the picture” for the jury.
No mention was made about the possibility of Hughes taking the stand in his defence.
Shikhman painting a scene where a crew of male invaders – one of whom was armed with collapsable baton – inflicted fear into a group of friends gathered at Hughes’ Victoria Avenue home.
She illustrated how Jesse Hendricks, a defence witness, was “brutally assaulted” while Amanda Walton, another defence witness, pleaded for the attackers to stop moments before Hughes opened fire on the group.
Hughes, 24, is on trial for second-degree murder in connection with the March 18, 2010 shooting death of Roy Mays Jr., 24. He is also charged with the attempted murder of Justin Coughlan, Mays’ cousin, along with the possession of an illegal firearm.
Hendricks, who the Crown would accuse of fabricating key aspects of his story with the goal of aiding Hughes’ case, a friend he credits for saving his life. The 22-year-old vehemently denied those claims, while maintaining that he was the victim … not his attackers who barged into the St. Patrick’s Day gathering.
“I don’t want Myles to get into trouble for saving my life,” he said. “This is not to help my friend out.”
The sometimes temperamental Hendricks described a graphic scene where he was cornered inside the house by at least three men, including Mays, who delivered a punch that sent him tumbling to the living room floor.
“It seemed like he (Mays) was trying to take my head off,” Hendricks said, about Mays’ assault on him while he lay on the living room floor. “They continued beating me.”
Like several earlier witness accounts, Hendricks reiterated that the crashing entrance to the rental home, shortly after 3 a.m., was spurred by an earlier confrontation, following which Mays promised to return with backup.
“I put my hands up. I wasn’t willing to fight,” Hendricks said. “He (Mays) punched me in the face.”
He recalls observing one of the “invaders” brandishing a chrome baton, a recollection the prosecutor later suggested was concocted by Hendricks to support Hughes.
Cornered and sustaining blows all over his body, Hendricks recalls the attackers fleeing the home after at least three shots where fired, but can’t recall seeing the trigger man.
“I was trying to get up and away from the situation,” he said. “I didn’t get injured too bad.”
Crown attorney, Gerry McGeachy, wasted no time slamming Hendricks’ credibility and accusing him of producing hearsay. Placing the witness under heat for contradicting several of his earlier statements to police, McGeachy also refuted his description of one of the attackers.
“I’m the victim,” Hedricks said. “I’m sorry that a mother had to lose her son.”
Tempers flared outside the courtroom as Hendricks and Connie Morris, Mays’ mother, exchanged words on his departure. The melee disturbed the proceeding and required police intervention. The jurors were sequestered until the tension ebbed.
“I was outside having a smoke, he yelled at me,” Morris was overheard telling an officer.
Shikhman was also observed ushering Amanda Walton away from the path of both families as they streamed out the courtroom.
“She should be charged,” Hughes’ mother uttered. “Me, yesterday. Now again today.”
After cooler heads prevailed, Justice Robert Scott instructed the jury to ignore the fracas “because it has nothing to do with us.”
Tyler Carter, the next witness for the defence, was also thrust under a microscope by the Crown, who pressured him to clarify how it was possible for him to be standing right next to the shooter but deny seeing him.
Carter attempted to confirm much of Hendricks’ testimony but the Crown continued to poke holes in his story, including a portion where Hendricks said they met up at a East Hill location after the shooting, a meeting Carter denied.
Carter’s cross-examination by the Crown will continue today before Walton takes the stand.