When Peter Khill awoke to the sound of banging outside his home at about 3 a.m. on Feb. 4, 2016, Crown prosecutor Sean Doherty said on Monday, “He went and got his shotgun, not his phone to call 911.”
The third trial of Peter Khill began Monday in Hamilton. He’s accused of murder in the 2016 shooting death of Jon Styres, a 29-year-old man from Six Nations of the Grand River. Khill was found not guilty of second-degree murder following a 12-day trial in June 2018. After an appeal, the Supreme Court of Canada, last October, ordered a new trial. That second trial began last Tuesday, but ended in a mistrial a day later after a juror was dismissed over a conflict of interest and another left for a family emergency.
Doherty told the Ontario Superior Court on Monday that “Jonathan Styres lost his life at the hands of Peter Khill over a pickup truck — an old pickup truck. Peter Khill’s old pick up truck. Now, it is true that Mr. Styres was trying to steal that truck. He was wrong to do that, no question. But it is our position, that provided no justification for Mr. Khill to shoot and kill him.”
The crown presented evidence that Styres used a screwdriver to “punch” the passenger side lock on the truck. DNA found on three screwdrivers near the passenger’s door matched Styres. Photos taken of the crime scene showed the centre console of the truck was ajar, and $47.31 in loonies, toonies and small change was scattered around the open passenger side door.
Doherty said Melinda Benko, Khill’s partner, woke up to the sound of banging and woke Khill up. Doherty said Khill saw the lights on inside his truck and went to confront Styres.
“Moments later, Styres was dead, laying on his back in mud in Khill’s driveway,” he said.
Police were called after Styres was shot, the court heard.
Responding officer listens to 911 call after shooting
Doherty called Const. Jeffery Hahn, the responding officer on the night of the shooting, as a witness.
Hahn described Khill’s yard as “Very, very, very dark,” with only a small amount of light coming from the front porch.
In the 911 call, Hahn arrives first on the scene.
“Police, where’s the gun?” Hahn asks in the recording.
Khill responds saying it is in the back hallway of his house.
“Police. Where’s the guy?” Hahn asks.
Khill shows the officer where Styres is laying and says, “He’s got no pulse.”
Hahn twice asks Khill to back up.
Hahn tells the court he began performing CPR on Styres, and that he located a very large wound on Styres upper left chest.
He said he found Styres lying on his back, and that he did not turn him or move him, but cut his shirt open to see the wound and perform CPR.
Khill asked Hahn if he could put his shoes on, saying, “My feet are f—–g freezing.”
Hahn says no.
In court, Hahn said he wanted Styres to stay in sight and not go inside, where the weapon was.
Hahn is heard on the tape saying, “Go get that ambulance, ambulance on scene,” to either Khill or another responding officer.
Hahn said he performed CPR until paramedics arrived and intubated Styres, but it was too late to save his life.
Jeffrey Manishen, Khill’s lawyer, submitted Khill’s admission of fact — that he admits he shot Styres, that he shot the gun, and that the gun recovered by police is his gun, as his first piece of evidence.
New evidence presented
Doherty called former Hamilton police Sgt. Timothy O’Keefe, who was a detective in the forensic identification branch at the time, up to the witness box.
Doherty went over photos taken at the crime scene by Sgt. Tamara McGillivray hours after the shooting.
The photos were submitted as evidence, and showed the driveway of Khill’s Highway 56 home, Khill’s pickup truck and inside Khill’s home.
The court went over photos that showed Khill was storing ammunition for his Remington 870 shotgun in his bedside table.
Khill left his phone on top of the same table when he grabbed ammunition for his gun the night he killed Styres.
The jury saw a piece of evidence that was missed in Khill’s 2016 trial.
While preparing for the trial, O’Keefe found a business card for Blair Blanchard and Stapleton, a real estate broker on Main Street West in Hamilton, with ‘Highway 56’ written on the back.
O’Keefe said he found the business card in Styres’s front jacket pocket, though what the card means in terms of evidence is unclear.
Another juror was let go on Monday. She told Ontario Superior Court Justice Andrew Goodman she would miss a day of the trial in December for her grand-daughter’s open heart surgery, leaving the court with 12 jurors and two replacements.
The jury is made up of eight women and four men