Trial starts for brother accused of 1st-degree murder in death of promising Strathmore hockey player

Click to play video: 'Trial starts for man accused of killing promising Strathmore hockey player' Trial starts for man accused of killing promising Strathmore hockey player
WATCH: Kristian Ayoungman was found dead inside a vehicle on the side of an Alberta highway in March 2019. As Jenna Freeman reports, the trial for one of two brothers accused in his death started Monday at the Calgary Courts Centre. – Jun 7, 2021

The trial for Brandon Giffen started at the Calgary Courts Centre Monday morning.

The Crown prosecutors rejected an attempt by the defence to enter a plea to the lesser charge of manslaughter Monday morning.

Kristian Ayoungman, 24, was found dead inside a vehicle outside of Strathmore on March 17, 2019.

Kody Giffen, Brandon’s younger brother, previously pled guilty to a charge of manslaughter connected to Ayoungman’s death and was sentenced to four years in prison.

Read more: Man sentenced to at least 4 years in prison for shooting death of Alberta hockey player

On Monday, a trial by judge alone started for Brandon, who is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Ayoungman.

According to an agreed statement of facts that was entered into evidence, Ayoungman died after he suffered a gunshot wound to the chest.

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Prosecutor Lynda Levesque said it’s the Crown’s theory that an altercation outside a Strathmore bar over a pack of cigarettes is what ultimately led to Kody and Brandon chasing down Ayoungman in a vehicle with a rifle in hand.

Read more: Mother of Alberta man who was shot to death now robbed of son’s hockey ring

Levesque said Kody was upset after he purchased a pack of cigarettes from Ayoungman and it wasn’t full.

The prosecutor said the facts will show that it led to an altercation outside the King Eddy Pub in Strathmore, which spilled over to an apartment building in the town.

Eventually, Kody went inside and involved his older brother Brandon, who emerged with a shotgun, causing Kristian Ayoungman and his friends to flee in a truck.

Read more: Southern Alberta hockey community shocked by homicide of young player

The driver of the truck, Ayoungman’s friend Breeana Crawler, tried to evade the vehicle driving through the town of Strathmore and ended up south of the town on the highway.

Levesque said in her opening remarks that Kody pulled over and Brandon exited the vehicle and fired a shot from the rifle that hit Ayoungman and killed him.

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A voir dire started mid-morning, which is essentially a trial within a trial to determine the admissibility of evidence.

Read more: Grieving Alberta family upset after accused murderer gets bail

The trial is scheduled to last three weeks.

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