Tennessee Weedmark doesn't deny killing a 12-year-old boy with a baseball bat, but a Winnipeg jury must decide whether his violent actions were legally justified.
Weedmark, 21, has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter, claiming he acted in self-defence. His two-week trial began Wednesday.
Albert Goosehead III died of blunt-force trauma after a June 2009 attack on Bloodvein First Nation, a community of 1,060 about 190 kilometres north of Winnipeg.
Crown attorney Craig Savage told jurors in his opening statement this case is not a whodunit.
"The key issue for you to consider will not be whether the accused caused the death of Albert Goosehead, but whether doing so amounted to a criminal offence, namely manslaughter," Savage said.
The circumstances surrounding the killing amount to a "love triangle" of sorts, court was told. Weedmark, then 18, had started dating a young woman in Bloodvein after a previous relationship with her sister, who was friends with Goosehead.
The ex-girlfriend was jealous her sister was dating Weedmark and claimed he physically assaulted her, court was told. She told Goosehead and others about the alleged abuse, prompting Goosehead to grab a baseball bat and go with several friends to the home where Weedmark was staying. One of those friends told jurors Wednesday that Goosehead smashed his way into the home in the middle of the night where a confrontation occurred between the two. A secondary brawl erupted between the two sisters.
At some point, Weedmark got hold of the bat and struck Goosehead three times in the head, knocking him to the ground and causing the fatal injury.
The RCMP found Goosehead's body inside the residence later that morning. He was rushed to a nursing station and was pronounced dead on arrival.