A judge and 13 jurors heard evidence Monday on the first day of a three-week trial connected to the deaths of 40-year-old Jason Williams and 39-year-old Terrance Sutton.
The men’s bodies were found just in front of Sutton’s neighbour’s house, in Chipman, Alta., northeast of Edmonton.
Both Williams and Sutton had been fatally shot — one in the head, the other in the abdomen.
RCMP arrested and charged 36-year-old Raymond Nickerson, the neighbour, with two counts of second-degree murder.
On Monday, he pleaded not guilty to both charges.
Giving instructions to the jury, Justice Eric Macklin said the defence will be arguing that Nickerson acted in self defence.
Normally a jury consists of 12 people, but a 13th has been brought in during the pandemic, in case anyone cannot attend for health reasons.
The Crown told the jury the crime occurred after a dispute about fireworks the victims launched for Sutton’s wife’s birthday.
The first RCMP officer on scene, Const. Michael Gaines, was the first witness to be called by the Crown.
He described gruesome injuries sustained by both victims.
When he arrived, he said Sutton’s wife was crying while holding a towel to his abdomen, attempting to stop the bleeding.
Once he got inside the Nickerson home, Gaines said he found a pump-action shotgun on the kitchen counter.
The Crown’s second witness, Cpl. Jennifer Crown, another RCMP officer, said she found shotgun shell casings in Nickerson’s pocket when she arrested him shortly after.
The Crown said it will be bringing forward a number of witnesses, including Sutton’s wife and son, the medical examiner and a blood stain pattern expert.