Warning: This story contains details that some readers may find disturbing.
A former gang member called by Crown prosecutors to testify in the Dillon Whitehawk murder trial Thursday said the accused was a high-ranking member of Regina's Indian Mafia (IM) street gang who had access to communal guns — and a place to hide them.
Whitehawk is accused of first-degree murder in the death of 29-year-old Regina mother Keesha Bitternose. He has pleaded not guilty and opted for a judge-alone trial that's set to last for two weeks.
The witness, whose identity is protected under a publication ban, spoke as a former fellow high-ranking member of IM.
He told the court that "anytime muscle was needed," Whitehawk and his brother — who lives out of town and holds a gun licence — were in the witness's "inner circle" of people who would go to a local sporting goods store to buy firearms for the gang. That included a black SKS rifle, which has come up several times this week in Crown witness testimony, bought in June 2019.
The witness said the gang's guns, such as the rifle in question, were typically kept at a house known as "the farm" in the 1900 block of Montreal Street. However, guns would sometimes be moved to 1571 Cameron Street, where IM members would frequently hang out and hold meetings.
On Jan. 3, 2020, the day after Bitternose died at that Cameron Street home, the SKS rifle was seized by police from a backyard in the 1900 block of Montreal Street.
The former gang member testified he had never met Bitternose, but that he had heard of her.
On Tuesday, Dr. Andreea Nistor, the forensic pathologist who performed Bitternose's autopsy, told the court Bitternose easily had 100 or more injuries, making it difficult to determine the exact cause of death.
Nistor said it's possible that — among the woman's myriad of injuries — she was also shot.
There was one oval wound, roughly seven millimetres in diameter with a darkened abrasion around it, that stood out to the doctor most. However, it could have also been two injuries overlapping, which is why she said she's not certain.
If Bitternose was shot, Nistor estimated the bullet entered through the woman's back between two ribs and exited through her liver.
Crown attorneys argue Bitternose was unlawfully confined at the time of her killing and that it was planned, deliberate and gang-related.
On Thursday, co-Crown prosecutor Adam Breker asked the witness to explain what it means in a gang for someone to be greenlit.
"When you see someone, you take them out … you kill them," the former IM member responded, adding direction would come from someone of a higher rank in the gang.
If someone from the same gang started a rumour that another member was greenlit, they'd get a "dirty 30" beating, he added.
The witness also testified he wasn't aware of Bitternose ever being greenlit.
Thomas Hynes, Whitehawk's defence lawyer, questioned the Crown witness's memory, cross-examining him about his use of hard drugs.
The witness admitted he was typically impaired at the time, but said he knew for certain there were upwards of 10 people in his "inner circle" who had access to the guns he helped buy for the group — though the specific members rotated at times, depending on the circumstances.
The trial is scheduled to resume Friday morning at the Court of King's Bench in Regina.