Accused attacker’s fate rests with jury
A jury will decide the fate of a Penticton man who stabbed his two friends at a cocaine and alcohol-fuelled party.
Steven Michael Cameron is charged with two counts of aggravated assault stemming from an incident that took place at a Halloween house party in the 500 block of Edmonton Avenue on Oct. 30, 2010.
Cameron testified he “lost control” at the party after an argument escalated with his friend and party host Derek Robertson. The pair were exchanging words about Robertson’s consumption of alcohol that night, which led to punches and eventually Robertson being stabbed five times and a third man who tried to break up the fight being stabbed twice. Both of the men were taken to hospital with injuries but have since recovered.
While there is no point of contention on whether or not Cameron stabbed his friends, defence council Don Skogstad said in his closing argument that his client should be acquitted of the charges because he was acting in self-defence. Skogstad said his client testified he was being choked out and was scared because he has a history of being picked on. He said Cameron was facing an aggressor who larger than him, was not phased by any punches and he had no choice but to use the knife.
“Punching was having no effect. It’s a drastic move but it’s necessary … it is all he could do to save himself,” said Skogstad.
Key testimony for the Crown came from Cody McNeil, who testified he tried to break up the argument between his two friends when he saw it escalate to punches and was stabbed himself two times in the buttocks. McNeil admitted he had used cocaine during the party but was not drinking due to a medical condition at the time. Crown prosecutor John Swanson said in his closing argument that McNeil’s testimony was important because he was friends with both of the parties and appeared to be not as intoxicated as the other men that night.
Swanson emphasized that McNeil did not say anything about Cameron being choked out, nor was he cross-examined on it, and said he had jumped between the men and pulled Robertson aside. Swanson reminded the jury that McNeil was only about three metres away from the incident and tried to neutralize the conflict within seconds by pulling Robertson to the side.
“Once Cody McNeil got to Derek Robertson, the threat, if it ever existed, is eliminated. Mr. Cameron’s version of the events doesn’t fit with the timeline,” said Swanson.
Crown argued it would have been in those few seconds that so many things would have happened that it is “not logical.” Swanson said Cameron would have had to been choked out by Robertson, developed a fear for his life to justify using a knife, pulled out the spring-loaded knife, flung it open and stabbed Robertson five times and McNeil twice.
“These were the actions of an intoxicated and angry young man,” said Swanson.
Crown also argued that being intoxicated is not and excuse and Cameron’s memory of the incident had gaps that seemed to fit his claim of self defence. This includes his video statement given to the RCMP where he was given opportunity to explain what happened but did not mention anything about being choked out and was given no choice but to use the knife. Swanson offered that Cameron could have called for help from other partygoers in the upstairs of the house, asked for McNeil’s assistance or even as a last resort pulled out the knife and told Robertson to back off.
Justice Mark McEwan told the court on Thursday that he would be reading the charges to the jury Friday at 10 a.m. when they would begin deliberations.
*** This story has been edited for a correction***
- It was previously reported "Cody McNeil, who testified that Cameron had been asked to leave the party." This was inaccurate. McNeil did not hear Robertson ask Cameron to leave the party. In closing arguments of the trial, Crown counsel said Robertson testified he had asked Cameron to leave the party.