Keesha Bitternose's killing was planned, Crown witness testifies at Whitehawk trial

·5 min read
Before her death, Keesha Bitternose had plans to pursue a master’s degree in social work, her mother says.  (Submitted by Lynea George - image credit)
Before her death, Keesha Bitternose had plans to pursue a master’s degree in social work, her mother says. (Submitted by Lynea George - image credit)

Warning: This story contains details that some readers may find disturbing.

Keesha Bitternose's killing was discussed hours before she died, but didn't go as planned, according to Crown witness testimony heard on Monday at Dillon Whitehawk's murder trial at the Court of King's Bench in Regina.

Whitehawk, 28, is charged with first-degree murder in the 29-year-old mother's January 2020 death. He pleaded not guilty and opted for a judge-alone trial, which is now in its second week.

The witness — a former Indian Mafia (IM) street gang member who cannot be identified due to a publication ban — said she was with the accused and another gang member that New Year's Day when they plotted to kill Bitternose, an entry-level IM member known as a "soldier."

"I remember not taking it seriously," the witness told co-Crown prosecutor David Belanger.

"Why weren't you worried?" Belanger asked.

"I didn't think anything was going to happen because she was a soldier, just like me," she explained, adding that she guessed Bitternose would only get beat up.

The witness testified that Bitternose thought another female gang member was "power tripping" after recently getting promoted.

The witness went on to tell the court how Whitehawk and the other gang member present went into detail about how they wanted her to go on a walk with Bitternose, so they could kill her in a drive-by shooting.

"I remember thinking it was kind of stupid because what if they accidentally shot me?" the witness told Belanger.

The witness said that later that night, she ended up leaving the house party where the killing later took place.

The witness said she reconnected with Whitehawk and the other gang member at a friend's house a few hours later, but they appeared to have changed their clothes.

The witness remembered Whitehawk telling her, "it's done" and saying he always "pulls the trigger" — something she understood as confirmation that Bitternose was dead.

Whitehawk then asked the witness and another IM member to return to the crime scene in the 1500 block of Cameron Street to retrieve a gun, the witness told the court.

The Crown later confirmed with the witness that it was the same SKS rifle Regina police located in the 1900 block of Montreal Street on Jan. 3, 2020, the day after Bitternose died.

The witness said that, upon arrival at the Cameron Street home, she "felt sick" when she saw Bitternose lying dead in the back porch.

Name withheld/Facebook
Name withheld/Facebook

In his cross-examination, Whitehawk's defence lawyer Thomas Hynes questioned the witness's memory and pointed to her consumption of crystal meth, cannabis and alcohol that day and night.

"It's just been a long time," she responded.

The witness told the defence that Bitternose was trying to move up a rank in the gang by undermining another higher-up female gang member, leading to that woman's demotion days before the killing.

Hynes went on to ask the witness if male IM members ever helped discipline female members, such as giving them a "dirty 30" — a 30-second beating by others in the group. She said no, noting that if a male member helped, he could be disciplined himself.

The defence argued the plan to kill Bitternose "wasn't well-developed," pointing to her not worrying about the severity of it, as mentioned earlier in her testimony.

Hynes also questioned why the witness left out Whitehawk and the other gang member's alleged murder plot in earlier police statements, instead telling officers that other gang member wasn't involved in Bitternose's death.

"That was a lie?" Hynes asked.

"Yes," the witness said.

'Keep quiet'

Another Crown witness — a former IM member whose identity is also under a publication ban — backed up some of the former female gang member's testimony.

He told the court he went with her to retrieve the gun at the crime scene, as per Whitehawk's alleged wishes.

When the Crown asked the accused what had transpired, the witness testified that Whitehawk explained to him how Bitternose was shot, beaten, stabbed and strangled, before asking him to "keep quiet" and get rid of her body.

"Were you willing to do that?" Belanger asked.

"At the time, yes," the witness responded, noting he never did because he couldn't find a vehicle to use.

The cross-examination began with Hynes asking the witness about his on-again-off-again relationship with the other gang member Whitehawk allegedly plotted to kill Bitternose with.

The defence also referenced inconsistencies in the witness's previous testimony, and questioned how long he had been awake when he had spoken with Whitehawk, pointing to his use of crystal meth, alcohol and previous night out at the bar.

Hynes is set to continue his cross-examination of that witness when court resumes on Tuesday morning.

Bloodstain pattern analysis

There were blood pools, smears and spatters in several areas around the Cameron Street home where Bitternose was killed, according to Edmonton RCMP Sgt. Trevor Knopp.

The former bloodstain pattern analyst was first to testify on Monday and spoke about the report he penned for Regina police investigators early last year.

Ultimately, Knopp told the court, there were three main areas where blood was found: the kitchen and living room, the basement and the back porch.

He testified about a cushion found near a laundry machine that had "hundreds of spatters" on it.

As the Mountie went into further detail about the shape of each blood stain and spatter, Bitternose's mother could be heard sobbing in the back of the courtroom. Other loved ones, if they didn't get up to excuse themselves, had their heads in their hands between their knees.

Knopp said he couldn't quantify the force but inferred the "blood source" was lower to the ground.

CBC
CBC

In his cross-examination, Hynes questioned the accuracy of Knopp's analysis, given that he only saw photos of the crime scene instead of visiting it.

"Your assessment is only as good as the materials you're provided with?" the defence attorney asked.

"I would agree with that," Knopp responded.

The RCMP officer said bloodstain pattern analysis has a "subjective component to it," but argued it's also rooted in science.

This trial is scheduled to run until Friday.