Closing arguments in second-degree murder trial in Saint John

·6 min read

Crown and defence lawyers summed up their cases on Tuesday at the second-degree murder trial of Justin David Breau, who is charged in fatal shooting of Mark Shatford, 42, last year in Saint John.

On some things, the lawyers agreed.

Both sides say Breau was a regular drug user who set up a drug deal via Facebook in the early morning hours of Nov. 17, 2019, with Shatford and his fiancée Melissa Daley.

But defence lawyer Brian Munro, in his closing arguments to the jury, said the couple had no intention of selling Breau anything that night.

Their goal was to lure him — and his drug money — to their place on Saint John's west side and take the money as part of a $700 drug debt he owed them.

When Breau offered the money for the deal, Shatford hit him in the head with a three-foot socket wrench, said Munro. Breau responded by running out of the apartment, afraid for his life.

CBC
CBC

Munro said Breau found a shotgun in the backseat of a car he had borrowed, and shot Shatford with it.

Crown prosecutor Patrick Wilbur told the court that the shooting was the result of "a drug ripoff gone badly wrong." He said Breau went to 321 Duke St. West with two other men to rob a drug dealer.

Wilbur told the jury that Shatford fought back and chased Breau from the apartment and was then shot in the street.

"Mark Shatford died a slow, painful, miserable death, almost a month later," he told the jury.

During eight days of testimony, the jury heard from 22 witnesses, including the accused, who was the only witness called by the defence.

Wilbur said Breau appeared very differently in a police interview than he did on the stand. The prosecutor said the "true measure of the man" was the one in the video, not the one who testified last week.

He said the accused "would have you believe" that he was a family man who cooked for his mother and young daughter, and made popcorn for family movie night earlier in the evening of the shooting.

Wilbur reminded jurors of Breau's own testimony — he was out in the middle of the night trying to score drugs at a crack shack right before he went to Shatford's place.

He also pointed out several inconsistencies in Breau's story to police two days after the shooting.

Breau made no mention of Shatford hitting him, when Const. Chris McCutcheon asked him about a lump on his head. Instead, he said he got the injury while running through the woods and playing with his kids.

He said he couldn't remember the last time he was at 321 Duke St. West.

"A lie," said Wilbur.

He also said he couldn't remember the last time he had handled a gun.

"Another lie," Wilbur told the jury.

He also said that he hadn't been in a fight with Shatford, and said he didn't know what happened to him.

"Another lie."

Wilbur said Breau spoke authoritatively on the stand about pure and "cut" cocaine, and drug prices, yet claimed to have never heard of a "drug ripoff."

Wilbur said Breau has had a year to come up with a story.

Submitted by Debra Shatford
Submitted by Debra Shatford

During the trial, jurors heard there were five people inside the apartment when the incident occurred — Shatford, Daley, three of Daley's four children, and the boyfriend of Daley's then-17-year-old daughter.

Daley and the three teenagers testified that they were all in bed when three masked men entered the apartment.

Daley noticed them first when she saw shadows under the bedroom door. She went to investigate, and in the kitchen she encountered two masked men, who said they had "the wrong house" before heading to the door.

She told the jury that she called out to Shatford, and that's when a third man appeared from the bathroom. As Shatford wrestled with that person, Daley said, she pulled down his mask and recognized him as Breau, someone who owed her $700.

Daley, 38, told the court that Shatford grabbed a large wrench on the way out. The two men continued to wrestle as they went down the stairs.

She said as she and Daley stopped short of the vehicle, Breau went to the driver's side and grabbed a shotgun from the vehicle and fired it at Shatford, who stumbled back and fell to the ground.

Under cross-examination, the jury heard about a drug deal that was being set up between Breau and someone using Daley's Facebook account.

Daley said the messages must have been sent by Shatford. She insisted they weren't from her.

When Breau took the stand, he said he and Daley had been corresponding through Messenger for more than a year and he never believed any of the messages had been from Shatford.

The exchange began at 3:07 a.m. on Nov. 21, 2019, when a hand-wave emoji was sent to Breau from Daley's account.

Roger Cosman/CBC
Roger Cosman/CBC

Breau said he was at a "crack shack" on Peters Street when the message arrived.

Testifying last Friday, Breau said the drug house had run out of product, and he and several others had been waiting for replenishments to arrive.

Breau said he texted back asking if they had any "raw" — slang for pure cocaine.

According to a printout of the exchange that was entered as evidence, Daley responded by saying she only had "cut," which Breau described as a weaker form of cocaine.

The two texted back and forth and eventually settled on two grams of "cut" in exchange for 15 zopiclone pills and $70 cash.

Breau said he was on his way and Daley said the door was open.

He told the jury he was a regular customer at 321 Duke St. West and had been there 30 or 40 times since the summer of 2018.

Breau said he arrived at 4:20 a.m., made his way through the apartment as usual and knocked on the door of the master bedroom.

Breau said he heard the chain lock being slid across and when the door opened, Shatford was standing there with Daley a few feet behind him.

Submitted by Debra Shatford
Submitted by Debra Shatford

He said Shatford grabbed his $100 bill, reminded him of the money owed and said Breau wasn't going to get anything that night.

Breau testified that when he tried to grab the money back, Shatford hit him in the head with a long, shiny metal object.

He said he fled the apartment with Shatford in pursuit.

When he got to the vehicle he had borrowed from a friend, he reached into the backseat and grabbed a shotgun that he said he hadn't known was there until he opened the door.

Emergency personnel responded to a 911 call made at 4:25 a.m., and found Shatford lying in the street, bleeding from numerous pellet holes in his abdomen. Despite several surgeries, Shatford died on Dec. 18.

Under cross-examination, Crown prosecutor Joanne Park portrayed the incident as a "drug rip-off." She suggested that Breau and his two buddies made a fake deal, then tried to rob Shatford, and he was just trying to get him out of his house.

Breau denied knowing what a "drug rip-off" is and said Park was trying to put words in his mouth.

Mr. Justice Thomas Christie is expected to finish giving the jurors final instructions on the law on Wednesday morning before they begin their deliberations.