Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Teen faces jury in shooting death of man behind store

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TREVOR HARPER was gunned down in a random crossing of paths with a group of young men behind a Portage Avenue mobile-phone store, a Winnipeg jury was told Monday.

And now, the young man's accused killer -- a 15-year old boy at the time -- is on trial for second-degree murder after being fingered by police as the person among a group of males who ultimately fired the deadly shots. He is presumed innocent.

Now 17, the youth was arrested four days after Harper, 20, was fatally shot inside a Honda Prelude just after 6 p.m. on April 29, 2011. The vehicle was parked in the rear of a cellular-phone store at 557-559 Portage Ave., just across the street from the CBC Manitoba headquarters.

Crown prosecutor Christian Vanderhooft said Harper had been selling marijuana that day. He had been paid for one deal with an iPhone that day and went to the store to activate it. Harper was riding shotgun in the Honda, a friend behind the wheel and his girlfriend in the rear seat.

Once there, a group of six males who had been playing basketball at nearby Magnus Eliason Recreation Centre were walking south down Young Street towards a restaurant when they spotted Harper and his friends in the car. Two walked onwards to the restaurant while four others remained behind.

"That is where two worlds fatally collided," Vanderhooft told the eight-man, four-woman jury. "The wrong place at the wrong time."

The teen is accused of pulling out a .22-calibre handgun, tapping it on the window of the vehicle and ordering its occupants out. When the driver instead reversed and then moved forward to escape, the youth fired two shots, Vanderhooft alleged.

Both bullets hit Harper in the head, one penetrating his brain. "That shot killed him," said Vanderhooft.

The driver of the vehicle pulled onto Portage Avenue to call 911 and then rushed Harper to the Health Sciences Centre, where he was later pronounced dead.

Vanderhooft said jurors will see video surveillance from the area to "set the scene" for them, as well as hear from the vehicle's driver and Harper's girlfriend about the sudden confrontation.

The Crown also expects to call as witnesses members of the group who were with the accused gunman at the time of the shooting.

Vanderhooft cautioned some of them may be "reluctant" to testify. "Some may be associated to each other and their association may motivate how they view what happened," he said. No gang-related link was relayed to jurors by the Crown.

"From our perspective, this case is very simple," Vanderhooft said. The youth had the gun and it was he that approached the car, Vanderhooft alleged. "Instead of leaving well enough alone, he didn't. He pulled the trigger," the prosecutor said.

Police witnesses testified Monday no DNA or other forensic materials were located on two shell casings investigators retrieved in the case.

The trial is set to last into December.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 5, 2013 A4

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