(Walter Strong/CBC - image credit)
On Tuesday morning, a Yellowknife courtroom heard the testimony of the man charged with second-degree murder in the death of Cameron Sayine.
Chad Beck, a man from Fort Resolution, N.W.T., is on trial after the Crown rejected an offer from the defence that Beck plead guilty to manslaughter. Beck has previously agreed to a statement of facts saying he struck Sayine, 27, several times with an axe in the face, neck and torso on July 1, 2018. Sayine died as a result.
The statement of facts also said Sayine assaulted Beck earlier that day, leaving him with bruised eyes and a cut over his left eyebrow.
Beck detailed the events that led to his altercation with Sayine when he testified in N.W.T. Supreme Court on Tuesday.
Beck described his health at the time of the incident as being "not that good." He talked about how he endured states of intense panic, where he felt like he was having a heart attack, and couldn't control himself.
After being arrested, he says he learned from a nurse at the jail that he was suffering from panic attacks, which started around four years prior to the incident in July. Up until that point, he "didn't think that anything could be done [to help]."
Beck said he had also been drinking and smoking a lot, which worsened his asthma.
Growing up in Fort Resolution, Beck said he had known Sayine all of his life. When they were younger, Beck said they had even been best friends at one point.
However, that relationship soured, and Beck told the court that the two had a history of violence against each other. They had grown distant after Sayine left town for a while.
I just panicked. I swung the axe as a reaction. - Chad Beck, accused
When he returned, Beck alleged an incident where Sayine stole alcohol from his grandmother. Beck, who was in his room at the time, heard his grandmother, who had raised him, yelling about the situation.
Beck ran after Sayine to retrieve what was stolen, but Beck fought him instead. Things were never the same after that, he told the court. He went on to describe a series of events where Sayine would "beat him up" and break in and enter his home.
Attacked out of fear, Beck says
On the day of Sayine's death, Beck alleged that there were a few separate instances of assault by Sayine, which left Beck with a bloody eyebrow and chipped teeth.
That morning, Beck said he was hungover and wanted to drink to ease his hangover. He caught a ride to a friend's house for a cookout and a drink.
Sayine showed up and they drank together. Beck said things were going normally, until out of nowhere, Sayine hit him with a chair leg, causing his eyebrow to bleed.
After another period of normalcy, where they ate hotdogs outside together, Beck says Sayine grabbed him, causing him to run inside the home for help. A friend, Jason Larocque was sleeping indoors, but was woken up by Sayine. They hung out for awhile, before Sayine attacked Beck again, chipping his teeth. Beck then ran out of the house, sprinting to a neighbour's to call the cops. He was barefoot and stopped 25 feet away once he realized his feet would be sore.
Beck decided to return to the house. Before entering the home, he grabbed the axe next to the doorway, expecting to scare Sayine away. He feared that Sayine was attacking Larocque and said he didn't want to leave Larocque alone.
He saw Sayine stand up from where he was seated, allegedly lunging to attack Larocque.
"I was thinking, what if sees me with an axe and hits me and takes it away. I just panicked. I swung the axe as a reaction," Beck told the court.
Beck said he hit him in the head with the axe. Sayine flew forward, face down, beside Larocque's feet. Beck said he thought Sayine was going to get back up, so he hit him again in the back.
Beck testified that he couldn't believe he had killed him. "I got scared and hit him out of a reflex. I didn't know what to do," he told the court.
Larocque left, and Beck proceeded to drag the body out of the home, down the property, and said that he didn't want his family to see Sayine's lifeless body.
He was angry and struck the body a few more times.
Beck went back to the camper where Larocque had retreated to continue drinking. "I was drunk already, but I thought I might as well go all out, since my life is ending," he said.
His auntie and uncle arrived shortly after and called the cops.
Once the police arrived, Beck laid on the ground with his hands behind his head , "because I didn't want them to shoot me," he said. He was then taken into custody.
Cross-examination by the Crown prosecutor was scheduled to take place Tuesday afternoon.