Young boy who 'heard screaming coming from my mother' testifies in murder trial

·3 min read
A photo of Autumn Taggart and her infant son sits in the back of her parents' pickup truck. John Taggart, left and Jolayne Lausch, right have been present in court throughout the trial. (Jason Viau/CBC - image credit)
A photo of Autumn Taggart and her infant son sits in the back of her parents' pickup truck. John Taggart, left and Jolayne Lausch, right have been present in court throughout the trial. (Jason Viau/CBC - image credit)

During the first-degree murder trial of Jitesh Bhogal, the son of victim Autumn Taggart testified Tuesday that a man briefly came into his room and shortly after he heard "screaming coming from my mother that night."

Taggart's body was found on the morning of June 10, 2018 by her son, who was nine years old at the time. He is 13 years old now. CBC News is choosing not to identify the child to protect his privacy.

The boy testified in another room in the courthouse, separate from the main room where the judge, jury, lawyers and accused sit. He was with a support worker while giving his testimony.

"Some person came into my room and said something, that I don't even recall. When he left my room, it was quiet for a little bit then I heard screaming coming from my mother that night. That scream lasted for a while, then ended," the boy testified in court on Tuesday. "And then, as I knew it, I fell asleep again and I woke up."

In the morning when the boy woke up, he testified he went to his mother's room.

"Everything was knocked over, broken, destroyed. My mother was sleeping, well that's what I thought at first, but there was blood on her nose, coming to the conclusion that she was dead, she was killed," he said.

"I was in shock. I couldn't believe it. I cried, but I tried to deal with it. I just continued my day without even worrying about it," the boy testified.

Jolayne Lausch
Jolayne Lausch

He said he played games and watched videos on YouTube for part of the day, on June 10, 2018. It wasn't until later in the day did he text his dad from his mother's phone.

"I couldn't take it anymore. I had to tell someone about it," he said.

His dad rushed over and he went downstairs in the parking lot to meet him.

The boy remembers the last time he saw his mother alive. It was the night before she died, he testified, and they went grocery shopping with his dad who dropped them off at the apartment. The boy and his mom lived alone in a third-floor unit on University Avenue West, near McKay Avenue.

He recalls playing video games with his mom after getting home from the grocery store and then he went to bed.

The boy testified he was woken up by a man "standing right by my bed."

"He was kind of close," he testified, also saying no contact was ever made.

Jolayne Lausch
Jolayne Lausch

The man was in the boy's room for "probably three seconds."

The boy said he believes the man was white, average height and had messy hair.

"He looked like he just got out of bed," the boy testified. "I think he was skinny but not too skinny. I think he was skinny."

The Crown Attorney's office plans to call roughly 30 witnesses over the course of the eight-week trial. It's the first jury trial in Windsor in approximately 20 months, the courts having shut down due to the pandemic.

Jolayne Lausch
Jolayne Lausch

Earlier in the trial, the Crown Attorney outlined to the 14 jurors and Justice Renee Pomerance how the accused allegedly came into Canada using the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel at around 2:15 a.m. on June 10, 2018.

After purchasing and consuming cocaine, the Crown alleges Bhogal broke into Taggart's apartment. Once inside, he allegedly told Taggart's son, who was nine-years-old at the time, to go back to his room and go to bed.

During the boy's testimony Tuesday, he said he couldn't recall what the man said or if he said anything at all.

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