A man standing trial on several charges reportedly grew into a deep depression prior to the incident last December, when he allegedly shot the lock off an empty Penticton elementary school.
In his second day in trial, the court heard testimony from Yvon Martel’s wife, who asked not to be named, and a police officer who responded to the school in which Martel was found calmly smoking a cigarette.
Martel sat quiet and expressionless in the accused box in Penticton’s provincial courtroom as his spouse described the days and weeks leading up to the incident, and ultimately the minutes leading up to Martel shooting their landline telephone, barring her from calling the police.
She told the court she had noticed Martel sinking into a deeper depression after months of efforts attempting to gain employment in his field. A Red Seal welder, Martel’s wife told the court he had been seeking employment in the field in Penticton, and later out of town, but to no avail.
“He was drinking a lot more. He was drinking during the day, drinking in the morning, drinking at night, sleeping all the time. He was having mood swings. I couldn’t get him to help around the house,” Martel’s wife told the court.
She told the court she tried to convince Martel to get help, but he didn’t want to be on antidepressants.
“I didn’t think it was a very healthy combination of being depressed, drinking, self-medicating without a doctor’s prescription. I just thought it was something very dangerous,” she said.
She clarified that she felt the situation and Martel’s behaviour was dangerous specifically for Martel, noting that she didn’t feel in immediate danger, herself.
“I knew that I was holding onto a drowning man, and he was pulling me under, and I wanted to let go. But I didn’t want to leave him, I just wanted him to get his act together. I wanted him to go for rehabilitation,” she said.
In early December, things reportedly devolved, starting with an argument that led to Martel leaving for a week. The day after he returned, the two got into another argument and she went to bed at around 6 p.m. that evening.
When she woke up at around 3 a.m., she said she noticed that the light was on in the room Martel was sleeping in. She investigated and found Martel sitting in the room drinking a beer with his shotgun in a chair a couple of feet away.
“He was talking all kinds of garbage,” she said, after asking him what he was doing with the gun. “I said, ‘So, what do you plan to do?’ And he said something to the effect of, ‘I’m going to kill you,’ or ‘Maybe I’m going to kill you.’”
She recalled telling him he needed help and heading to the main floor of their house. Shortly afterward, she said he followed downstairs, holding the shotgun, pointed downward.
She told the court that she claimed she would call the police at some point, but when he got into the living room, she said he raised the gun toward their landline phone.
“I remember telling him, ‘Don’t you shoot my phone,’” she told the court. “Next thing I know, I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a flash of light, I heard the sound, sounds like a lightning bolt had hit my living room, it was so loud.”
She said her phone went up in the air and blew apart, later adding that a chunk was missing from her TV and there was a hole in her wall.
“My heart stopped for a second, it seemed like. And then it started racing, and it started racing,” she said, adding that it didn’t take her long to get out of her house.
It took her about 15 minutes to regain her senses and realize the police were likely at her house, but when she arrived at home, nobody was there.
Later on that morning, Martel would be found by a security guard inside École Entre Lacs, where Crown counsel Ann Lerchs alleges Martel shot the lock off a door to enter.
Martel’s trial began Tuesday morning with testimony from the security guard who found Martel and a police officer who responded to the scene. A second police officer made a similar testimony Monday morning.
Martel’s trial is expected to continue beyond Wednesday, though Lerchs was unable to say when the next court date would be held, with some aspects still “up in the air.”