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Victim’s friend testifies at manslaughter trial

May 10, 2018   |   Jeffrey J. Gindin, Q.C.   |  

A bartender at the Carberry Motor Inn took the stand in Brandon Court of Queen’s Bench on Wednesday, recalling the evening that a cordial meet up between a group of men in the motel bar somehow turned fatal.

Sharlene Robertson testified she was working on Sept. 9, 2015, the night Garnet Baptisté was found severely injured in the motel parking lot and died as a result of his injuries.

The three accused on trial — Raymond Jamie Bonser, Robert Edward Louie Laba and Regan Matthew Carlson — have pleaded not guilty to manslaughter.

Robertson remembered Laba and Carlson, later joined briefly by Baptisté and his friend, Ryan Malcolm, in the motel bar, adding they were “happy-go-lucky guys” just having fun.

A short time after the group left, Robertson said one of the men ran back into the bar telling her to call 911.

“I’m calling from the Carberry Motor Inn, I have a gentleman here … We’re not sure if he’s breathing or not, he’s laying on the ground outside,” Robertson can be heard saying in a recorded call to 911.

“Tell me exactly what happened,” the 911 operator asks in response.

“I don’t know, another patron came in and said to call 911 … Oh my god, I don’t know if he’s breathing. I can’t tell,” Robertson said.

The operator asks for more information and men’s voices can be heard in the background.

“His name is Garnet … Garnet Baptisté. He’s supposed to be working with me, they f—king killed him,” a man can be heard saying in the background.

“I heard someone say ‘They killed him’ … is there blood on him?” the 911 operator asked.

“Yes, there is. All over his face,” Robertson said.

The court also heard a recording of a second 911 call placed by Laba, in which the 911 operator coaxes him to perform CPR on Baptisté.

“I don’t know if I can do this, I don’t know if he’s dead … I don’t think he’s breathing. He’s not even moving right now,” Laba said.

“I’m going to help you through it and give you instructions until the paramedics get there,” the operator said before walking Laba through the procedure and counting along as Laba pumps Baptisté’s chest.

“This is pretty hard for me right now, I’ve never done this before,” Laba said. “I don’t know if I’m doing it right, but I’m trying.”

Baptisté’s friend, Malcolm, also took the stand yesterday, testifying how things got out of hand after an argument he had with Carlson in his motel room.

Malcolm and Baptisté spent the day working together, he said, and had split a bottle of whiskey and some marijuana that evening after work.

They went to the motel bar to grab another drink where Baptisté started chatting with Carlson and Laba, Malcolm said, adding he went to the connected vendor to pick up some beer before heading back to their room.

Baptisté came back to the room with Carlson and Laba, Malcolm said, where things escalated.

“They were asking if I had drugs or knew where to get drugs,” Malcolm said. “I kind of got mad at him. Asked him if he was a cop and why he was asking me those questions.”

Malcolm said he grabbed Carlson off his chair and threw him to the floor, and had started punching him when Baptisté and Laba broke up the fight.

Malcolm continued trying to fight Carlson outside the room, he said, as Laba ran to Bonser’s room and started banging on the door to wake him up.

Bonser came out and hit Baptisté with an object before swinging it at Malcolm, he said.

“I thought it was a bat at the time, but I don’t think it was a bat … I think it was something else,” Malcolm said.

After running away, Malcolm said he went back to try to help Baptisté, but was chased away by the other three men.

“They started beating him again while he was on the ground, so I ran away,” Malcolm said.

Defence counsel questioned their level of intoxication.

Malcolm said Baptisté was “pretty drunk” and admitted the duo consumed 40 ounces of whisky in addition to approximately three grams of marijuana.

“Did that affect you?” asked Laba’s defence counsel, Jeffrey J. Gindin, Q.C..

“Not really,” Malcolm replied.

Gindin questioned Malcolm on why he told police he may have missed some of the facts, to which Malcolm said he was in shock.

“Shock, blacked out, the alcohol — either way, you missed some of the facts?” Gindin asked.

“Probably,” Malcolm said.

While Malcolm agreed with defence counsel that the fight started because Carlson and Laba asked for drugs, he couldn’t explain why he previously told police he didn’t know why the fight broke out.

Malcolm also said he didn’t recall Baptisté being involved in the fight, but that he followed him out into the parking lot as he tried to continue to fight Carlson.

“I don’t think (Baptisté) was fighting, I don’t think he ever hit anybody,” Malcolm said.

“You told the police that (Baptisté) and the other guy were fighting, your evidence today is that (Baptisté) wasn’t fighting?” said Carlson’s lawyer, Gregory Brodsky.

“(Baptisté) didn’t fight anybody,” Malcolm said.

The trial continues today.

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