Witness at 1st-degree murder trial testifies he picked up injured woman fleeing gunman

Surveillance footage submitted as evidence in a first-degree murder and attempted murder trial shows Jesse Christenson and Satvir Brar arriving at Strathcona County Community Hospital. (RCMP/Court Exhibit. - image credit)
Surveillance footage submitted as evidence in a first-degree murder and attempted murder trial shows Jesse Christenson and Satvir Brar arriving at Strathcona County Community Hospital. (RCMP/Court Exhibit. - image credit)

A witness told court Tuesday that he was stopped at a red light when a bleeding woman ran up to his truck and asked for help as a man with a gun chased her down the side of a road.

Several Sherwood Park commuters have been called as witnesses at the first-degree murder trial for for Gamdur Brar, who is charged in the May 2021 death of his wife's 19-year-old nephew, Harmanjot Singh Bhattal.

Gamdur Brar is also charged with attempting to murder his wife, Satvir Kaur Brar, with a firearm.

Crown prosecutors allege that on May 7, 2021, he pursued his wife and her nephew in an early morning car chase, shooting a spray of bullets at their vehicle, which was eventually run off the road.

Prosecutors allege he then shot Bhattal at close range with a revolver, and then pursued his wife on foot as she ran away.

Jesse Christenson was driving his truck to work and was stopped at a red light on Baseline Road in Sherwood Park when he said a woman ran up to his passenger side window.

He told court Tuesday that the woman held up her bleeding hand, showing pieces missing from her fingers.

"She said, 'You have to help me, my husband is trying to kill me,'" Christenson said.

Christenson said he looked behind her and saw a man running towards them. He said that the man was about 12 metres away and he saw him raise what looked like a silver-barrelled gun.

"At that point I assumed it was real and unlocked the vehicle," he said.

According to an agreed statement of facts entered at the beginning of the trial, it's admitted that the woman who climbed into Christenson's truck was Satvir Brar.

Christenson said that as they started driving toward the hospital, he called 911.

Prosecutors played a recording of the call, in which both Christenson and Satvir Brar are speaking, but parts of the audio are distorted.

911 recording challenged by defence

Defence lawyer Brian Beresh raised concerns about the admissibility of parts of the recording, prompting a voir dire — a trial within a trial — on the issue.

Court of King's Bench Justice Steve Hillier decided to hear the evidence, and will rule on the voir dire issue later in the trial.

During the recording, Satvir Brar repeatedly asks that someone go to her family's home to check on her children.

"I got shot ... somebody might kill my kids too," she tells dispatchers.

The Brars have two sons.

Christenson tells dispatchers the shooter was the woman's husband. But when asked to provide her husband's name, Satvir Brar refused.

"She won't give me the name of her husband, she just wants somebody to go see her kids," Christenson says in the recording.

Christenson was the fifth witness called to give evidence about seeing some aspect of the alleged car chase and shooting.

During cross examination, Beresh has peppered each of the witnesses with questions about how much they could see from their vantage point, particularly when it comes to the description of a man with a gun.

Craig Ryan/CBC
Craig Ryan/CBC

One of the commuter witnesses, Dionne Bailey, was the only witness asked if she could see the man she believed to be the shooter in the courtroom. She pointed to Brar, who was sitting at the defence table with his lawyers.

Beresh challenged Bailey on whether or not the man she saw was his client.

"What I am saying is you may be mistaken about identifying someone who is a total stranger to you," he said.

Bailey agreed that was possible, but also said she felt confident, and that the man's face was "ingrained" in her mind.

"I don't think I'm mistaken, but there's always a chance," she told court.

The trial is scheduled to run until Dec. 9.