Defence cross-examines witness in Learn trial

Day Two of the Cheyenne Learn trial saw defence counsel wrap up questioning of first witness.

Defence counsel had the opportunity to cross-examine an ex-girlfriend of Cheyenne Learn on Wednesday as the trial resumed in Cranbrook Supreme Court.

In front of Justice Dev Dley, the ex-girlfriend, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, answered questions from Brent Bagnall, who is representing Learn.

Learn is on trial for second degree murder in the shooting death of Tammy Ellis on Monday, Dec. 17th, 2007. He was convicted in 2009 in the first trial, but won an appeal which overturned the decision in 2013.

Uttering his only words so far in the trial, Learn pleaded not guilty on Tuesday morning.

After Tuesday’s testimony from the witness, which was gathered from questioning by crown counsel Lianna Swanson, Bagnall began and completed his cross-examination on Wednesday.

Bagnall opened by referring to statements the witness made to police and during the first trial.

He questioned her timeline of events, as the witness claimed she brought Learn dinner an hour—which would have been 10 p.m.—before the shooting occurred in her first statement to police on Dec. 18, 2007. However, during testimony on Tuesday, the witness testified she brought dinner to Learn at 6 p.m.—a four-hour time difference.

Some inconsistencies came up the night of the shooting near the end of Bagnall’s cross-examination, where he made a number of statements to the witness, suggesting that the witness brought dinner to Learn at 10 p.m. and that when she arrived, he was intoxicated.

Bagnall also suggested to the witness that the upper door lock was not properly latched by Ellis after an argument between Ellis and Learn right before the shooting.

In the Dec. 18 statement to police, the witness said she went out from her residence between 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. to get water, when in fact, she testified was delivering drugs to various buyers.

“That was a lie,” said Bagnell, referring to the witness’ statement to police. “You didn’t want to tell the RCMP you were delivering drugs.”

Bagnall’s cross-examination included questions regarding Learn’s level of intoxication and whether or not he was drunk the night of the shooting.

The witness testified that she knew Learn had been drinking earlier in the evening and knew he was intoxicated, but “wasn’t drunk to the point where he was stumbling.”

Learn showed up to the house right before the shooting and had a one-sentence conversation with the witness, which Bagnall suggested wasn’t enough for the witness to gauge whether or not Learn was drunk.

The witness’ timeline of events repeatedly clashed with Bagnall’s interpretation of the chronology leading up to, and on the day of the shooting, which culminated in him suggesting that the witness wasn’t putting in any effort into her testimony.

Bagnall also questioned the nature of the relationship between the witness and Ellis. The two knew each other for less than a few weeks, yet the witness conducted drug deals with Ellis, meaning the witness trusted her, suggested Bagnall.

The cross-examination covered a fight between the witness and Learn on the Friday before the shooting that involved a stash of cocaine and money that belonged to the witness in Learn’s trailer, which he wouldn’t allow her to get.

Ellis, who was in a nearby Jeep, left and entered the trailer, telling Learn she’d “call the big boys” to get the drugs, said the witness, which clashed with her original testimony in the first trial, where she said Ellis had stayed in the vehicle.

Following Bagnall’s cross-examination, crown counsel briefly re-examined the witness for details regarding who Learn pointed the gun at right before the shooting.

The witness’ testimony ended in the early afternoon.

Afterwards, Lynn Neelin, the owner of the residence where the shooting took place,  briefly took the stand for questioning by the Crown. She will continue her testimony on Thursday.