Cheyenne Learn re-trial underway in Cranbrook

A new trial for Cheyenne Learn began on Monday in Cranbrook Supreme Court, starting with witness testimony from an ex-girlfriend.

A new trial for Cheyenne Learn began on Monday in Cranbrook Supreme Court, starting with witness testimony from an ex-girlfriend.

Crown counsel Lianna Swanson spent the day questioning the witness for the court in front of Justice Dev Dley. Brent Bagnell is representing Learn as defence counsel and will cross-examine the same witness on Wednesday.

In 2009, Learn was convicted of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Tammy Ellis that occurred in December 2007.

The conviction overturned on appeal in May 2013.

The trial is expected to run until early next week.

The ex-girlfriend answered all of Swanson’s questions, which covered topics such as the nature of her relationships with Learn and Ellis and the timeline of events that took place on the night of Dec. 17, 2007.

Leading up to the shooting, the witness testified she had an argument with Learn at a trailer he was living in earlier in the evening. Later, she returned home, but Learn was in the driveway.

She said she ran past him and went into the house, refusing to speak to him.

Ellis went outside to speak with him and “put him in his place,” the witness testified.

Less than a minute after the conversation between Learn and Ellis, Learn entered the residence, carrying a firearm.

The witness testified that Learn pointed it at the roommate first, then on Ellis.

“’You turned my girlfriend into a crackhead you [expletives],’ the witness said, testifying to what Learn said prior to the shooting.

“Then he shot her.”

The witness said she went into shock that wore off after five minutes before going into a bedroom to call 911. She said the line was busy the first time, and that she was put on hold the second time.

The witness, who was 29 at the time of Ellis’ death, spent much of her time testifying about the nature of her tumultuous relationship with Learn between 2005-2007.

The two lived an alcohol and drug-fuelled lifestyle, consuming multiple ciders and smoking marijuana on a daily basis, with cocaine usage at about twice a week.

They began living together a month into the relationship in 2005, staying in a cabin outside town and spending the summer tenting in the bush. They also lived in a four-plex and stayed in a trailer called a “scamper” that was parked in the Wattsville neighbourhood.

The witness said she was formerly employed at a nursing home, but an injury prevented her from going back to work, so she started dealing cocaine for income near the end of the relationship.

The witness testified that she met Ellis by selling cocaine to her, and the two eventually became friends.

The witness’ relationship with Learn took a turn for the worse a week before Ellis’ death, when the witness had a fight with Learn because he wouldn’t give her a stash of cocaine and money that she claimed was hers.

The witness broke off the relationship with Learn, but was able to claim the money and the drugs the next day.

The witness also testified about Learn’s background with firearms, noting he kept a long-gun in the scamper and others at his father’s place. He often went out hunting and made his own bullets.

After defence counsel cross examines the witness  on Wednesday, the court will hear from other witnesses including members of the RCMP, a medical examiner and a firearms expert.

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