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Probert murder trial: Key Crown witness denies lying to court

Chelsie Probert
Chelsie Probert - Facebook

“That’s a false statement, sir.”

That was a common response from the Crown’s star witness Tuesday when he was crossexamined by the defence at a Dartmouth boy’s trial in Halifax youth court on a charge of second-degree murder.

Chelsie Probert, 18, of Halifax died after she was stabbed while walking on a path between Farrell Street and Albro Lake Road in Dartmouth on the night of June 6, 2017.

A 16-year-old boy was arrested June 22, 16 days later.

A 20-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the defendant, who’s now 17, told Halifax youth court Monday that he was with the accused when the killing occurred.

He said he saw his friend strike the young woman down after approaching her on the path and telling her to hand over all her stuff.

The accused had a corkscrew in one hand and a knife in the other, the witness said, but he wasn’t sure which weapon was used in the attack.

The witness said he left the scene and went down the path toward Farrell Street at that point. He said he yelled to the accused to get off the woman but he did not listen.

He said his friend caught up with him at the end of the path, handed him the corkscrew and told him the woman was dead.

Defence lawyer Brandon Rolle grilled the witness for more than four hours Tuesday in an attempt to discredit his version of events.

The man said he denied knowing anything about the killing when police first interviewed him June 12. “I gave them a boatload of crap,” he said.

But he said he told the truth when he gave investigators a statement June 17 implicating his friend.

“I did the best job I could in that state of mind,” he said.

In the statement, he said he may have left out some of the details surrounding the killing that he mentioned in his direct testimony Monday.

“That day was the hardest day of my life,” the witness said of June 17. “I was not in a good mental state.

“I was exhausted mentally and physically. I did my best to help police.”

Rolle alleged that in a conversation with two brothers earlier in 2017 about what each of them could or could not do criminally, the man said he believed that he could stab somebody and used the words “I could stab a bitch.”

“That’s a false statement, sir,” the young man replied.

He emphatically denied repeated suggestions by the defence lawyer that he, not the accused, was the killer.

Rolle posited that five days after lying to police, the man decided “I better point the finger at (the accused) before he points the finger at me.”

“Well, in a way, yes, sir,” the witness responded. “In case he lied about the situation.”

He said he “came forward” on the advice of his father.

“You would agree that you have lied multiple times about what happened on the night of June 6, 2017?” Rolle said.

“Yes I have, sir,” the man answered.

He agreed with the defence lawyer that he lied about the events to his mother more than once, to his father and to police.

“And you’re lying to this court,” Rolle suggested.

“No, I’m not, sir,” the witness replied. “That’s a false statement.”

In his direct testimony Monday, the witness said the accused showed off a couple of weapons, which he described as a corkscrew and a kitchen knife, before they went out in north-end Dartmouth with another friend on the night of June 6.

The Crown previously entered a tire-reamer, a corkscrew-like device used in the repair of damaged tires, into evidence. Police seized it and other items in their investigation.

The witness also admitted that on the night of Probert’s killing, he was carrying a folding knife with an orange handle and a curved blade. He said he had purchased the knife the previous month for protection. A knife matching that description was also entered into evidence earlier.

The man will return to the witness box Wednesday for further questions from Crown attorney Jamie Van Wart on redirect.

The trial got underway Sept. 4 in front of Judge Elizabeth Buckle and is scheduled to sit until Sept. 21.

The Crown has given notice that if the teen is convicted of murder, it will apply to have him sentenced as an adult.

The boy got bail last October and is on house arrest under the supervision of his mother.

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