A Winnipeg woman killed during a Canada Day shooting spree was targeted because she had witnessed her cousin being shot just seconds earlier, a court has been told.
Twenty-seven-year-old Danielle Dawn Cote died immediately after suffering a rifle blast to the back of her head in the 400 block of Flora Avenue, shortly after 3 a.m., July 1, 2020.
That revelation was included in a set of facts agreed to by the Crown and defence, which was provided to court last month for a 16-year-old boy who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in Cote’s death. He was 15 at the time of the crime. The boy, who will be sentenced at a later date, pleaded guilty to additional counts of discharging a firearm with intent and robbery with a firearm.
The Crown and defence say the boy and a now 15-year-old co-accused shot Cote’s 18-year-old male cousin after he resisted their attempts to rob him. The younger accused shot the man and then shot Cote at the urging of the older boy, because she was a witness, court was told.
The cousin ran to a nearby gas bar for help, video presented to the court showed. He recovered from his injuries.
A three-week trial began for the 15-year-old accused on Thursday. Even though another court hearing on the case of his co-accused accepted as fact that he was the shooter, that still has to be proven at his own trial. The boy has pleaded not guilty to one count of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder, and one count each of discharging a firearm with intent and possession of a firearm while prohibited.
Cote and her cousin weren’t the first ones shot by the two accused that night, according to agreed facts heard at the older boy’s hearing last month. Less than an hour earlier, the two accused tried to rob a young woman on Isabel Street. When the woman resisted and grabbed the barrel of their firearm, she was shot in the leg.
Much of the testimony at the younger boy’s trial Thursday was taken up reviewing security video that allegedly captured the two boys' movements over a 24-hour period. A video of the Isabel Street attack showed the woman dropping to the ground after being shot and two males running away. A passerby appears to call for an ambulance, but when it arrives a short time later, the woman appears to refuse treatment and it drives away.
Court was told police were able to identify the victim after another security video showed her arriving at Ndinawe Youth Resource Centre on Selkirk Avenue a short time later.
Another security video provided to court Thursday showed the two accused youths arriving at Ndinawe’s door just minutes before prosecutors allege Cote was killed. The video showed the older youth being buzzed in through a set of security doors, while the younger youth remained outside.
Melissa Monkman, a youth engagement worker at the resource centre, said she didn’t recognize either of the boys as regulars at the centre, but allowed the older one inside to use the phone.
"The other one looked suspicious," Monkman said. "the guy was leaning against the building… It looked like he had something down his (pant leg)."
Monkman said the older youth tried to make a couple of calls before he left and walked away with the other boy.
Under cross examination, Monkman agreed she later told police she thought the younger boy may have been on drugs, possibly "jib" (meth).
The two accused are also charged in the shooting of a man at The Forks nearly 24 hours later.
According to an agreed set of facts provided to court at the older boy’s October court hearing, the older boy had the gun when they saw a man they believed had pepper-sprayed them a day earlier. The older boy shot the man in the neck before the two accused ditched the gun underneath the Provencher Bridge.
The man survived the shooting.
Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.