Second eyewitness on the stand in Learn trial

Cheyenne Learn re-trial continues through third day.

  • Nov. 27, 2014 9:00 a.m.

A second eyewitness to the shooting death of Tammy Ellis wrapped up her testimony at the trial of Cheyenne Learn on Thursday in Cranbrook Supreme Court.

Crown counsel Lianna Swanson solicited testimony from the owner of the residence where the shooting took place, and defence counsel Brent Bagnall was able to cross-examine.

The court also heard from Leonard Lau, an RCMP firearms expert, in the afternoon who testified about the modifications and operation of the sawed-off shotgun used in the shooting.

In the interest of protecting the privacy of the homeowner’s identity, she will be referred to as L.N.

Learn is on trial for second degree murder in the shooting death of Tammy Ellis on Dec. 17, 2007. Learn was convicted in the first  trial in 2009, but an appeal overturned the decision in 2013, and Learn was awarded a new trial.

The day began with L.N. continuing her testimony from Wednesday afternoon, who established her version of the timeline leading up to the shooting and her interpretation of Learn’s level of alleged intoxication.

Crown counsel also went through a series of scene photos with L.N., and presented the gun that was used by Learn in the shooting.

“That’s it,” confirmed L.N., who was visibly shaken after looking at the firearm.

L.N. testified that, around 11 p.m. the night of the incident, Learn kicked open the door, entered the house and stepped into the living room and shot Ellis after the two had a five-minute argument outside the residence.

L.N. testified that Learn did not appear to have any issues with co-ordination and wasn’t slurring his words when he told Ellis that, “you turned my girlfriend into a crackhead you [expletives],” just before pulling the trigger.

Bagnall began his cross-examination late in the morning, digging into the relationship dynamics between L.N. and Learn’s ex-girlfriend, known as B.L. and Tammy Ellis.

L.N. testified that it seemed unusual that Ellis and B.L. grew so close so quickly, despite having known each other for less than a few weeks.

L.N. also testified that Ellis had a personality that was assertive, outspoken and impulsive and had a tendency to insert herself into other people’s relationships around her.

L.N. also said that both Ellis and B.L. did not have speak highly of Learn when he was not in their presence.

In the afternoon, Lau took the stand to offer testimony as an expert witness on firearms, and immediately told the court that the shotgun had been modified into a prohibited weapon.

In terms of modifications from a general perspective, the buttstock of the rifle had been replaced with a pistol grip, while the cylinder for a pump-action mechanism had been replaced with a rod attached to a stabilizing grip.

Lau testified that the modifications made it “not easy” to modify the magazine or to rack the pump-action forward that would chamber a shotgun shell.

Bagnall cross-examined very briefly, noting that the end of the shotgun barrel looked like it had been machined and not sawed-off.

He also noted that the shotgun shell recovered at the scene looked like it was old and exposed to the elements.

The trial will continue on Friday with testimony from an RCMP officer who attended the scene of the shooting.