Was Dylan Phillips’ death just a senseless tragedy or a Terror Squad killing? That is the question being put to a Court of Queen’s Bench judge in the Shaylin Sutherland-Kayseas first-degree murder trial.
Over the course of the last seven days, court has heard that it was a fatal shooting that led to Dylan Phillips dying on his parents’ kitchen floor.
The 26-year-old bled to death on Oct. 14, 2016, after the Crown alleges Terror Squad members came knocking on the door.
“The Crown’s theory is that this is murder,” senior Crown prosecutor Melodi Kujawa said outside of court.
“This is not manslaughter by virtue of the evidence given by Jan Phillips as well as the accused on sworn statement, we’re saying it’s first-degree because she did it in the association or for the benefit of the Terror Squad.”
On Tuesday, court heard from a constable who works in the guns and gangs unit with the Saskatoon Police Service. An officer the judge ruled was a qualified expert on the Terror Squad for Saskatoon and surrounding area.
He testified that there are approximately 200 Terror Squad members in Saskatoon and by going on a “mission” for the gang, it would prove a member’s loyalty and could result in moving up the ranks.
He identified Terror Squad colours as black with white accents and tattoos that included the letters “TS” in such a way they look like a dollar sign. The number “2019” is also a common tattoo among members, “T” representing the 20th letter in the alphabet, and “S” the 19th.
The officer, the Crown’s last witness before closing its case, was setting the scene, so to speak, for the judge in terms of the inner workings of the Terror Squad and why this happened.
“He needs to understands that the drug trade is their primary way in their means of making money,” Kujawa added.
“… How intimidation and violence is used to further that end game.”
Earlier in the trial court heard that Phillips had methamphetamine in his system the night he was killed. The allegation is he was a drug dealer on Terror Squad Turf but neither the Crown nor defence has proven in court that he ever distributed drugs.
“She’s admitted she’s a member of the Terror Squad,” Sutherland-Kayseas’ lawyer Jessie Buydens said.
“That doesn’t mean the murder or the shooting of Dylan Phillips was for the benefit or in association with Terror Squad and that’s the test we’re testing.”
The defence said it will be arguing for manslaughter in this case during closing arguments anticipated to happen Friday.
“There wasn’t any planning or deliberation and the other two co-accused were convicted of manslaughter, sentences for that – our position is all three of them are on level footing,” Buydens added.
The defence says it plans on calling the second of two co-accused to the stand on Wednesday after the Crown opted not to. Whether or not Kayseas will take the stand in her own defence is still undecided.