'How am I going to live with myself': Judge sees police video in trial for attack on elderly couple
Couple, age 85 and 88, attacked in their Selkirk home in April 2016
The trial of Justin Bannab continued in a Winnipeg courtroom on Wednesday, with video footage of his statement to RCMP a day after a brutal assault on an elderly couple in a small Manitoba community.
Bannab is facing four charges, including aggravated assault, aggravated sexual assault and break and enter, tied to a home invasion and an attack that happened on a quiet Selkirk street in April 2016.
Bannab has pleaded not criminally responsible.
On Tuesday, court heard both the defence and Crown agreed that Bannab, then 22, had walked into the home of a couple in their 80s on a Sunday night and beaten them with household objects.
Both were seriously injured and taken to hospital. The 85-year-old woman had to have emergency surgery to repair a skull fracture. Doctors later discovered she had been seriously sexually assaulted.
Neither died from the attack, but the woman died in hospital four months later due to complications with a pre-existing illness. She never left the hospital between the attack and her death.
Her husband was discharged to a personal care home after the attack.
Video shows police interrogation
The defence does not contend that Bannab didn't carry out the assaults, but argues he is not guilty "on account of mental disorder."
On Wednesday, provincial court Judge Sidney Lerner heard testimony from two RCMP constables and watched videos of Bannab being questioned the day after the incident.
One shows RCMP serious crimes unit Const. Tyler Hildahl questioning Bannab for several hours.
He starts off in a casual, sympathetic tone, telling Bannab he'll get him food, asking him how he is "holding up" and telling Bannab, "I'm a pretty, uh, fair guy. I know you haven't been in trouble in the past so I want to make sure you know what's going on."
Bannab is unresponsive outside of asking to see his lawyer in person and saying he does not want to talk or listen to Hildahl. He's told he already spoke to his lawyer, Matthew Gould, over the phone that day and that he won't be seeing Gould in person.
Hildahl tells Bannab he spoke with his family and he knows he recently dealt with the death of his aunt, which has caused him to act differently in recent weeks.
"I think she'd be very disappointed in you," he said. "She's going to want to see you have courage and step up and admit what you did was wrong."
He also notes cut marks and burns on Bannab's arms and says, "I can see you've gone through your struggles. I can see that on your arm. You've gone through your struggles."
'A sick freak'
Hildahl switches tactics throughout the interview, explaining the seriousness of the crimes and what the families of the victims are going through and at one point calling Bannab a "sick freak."
"You can count your lucky stars that they are not dead because I really do think you were an inch away from me talking to you today about murder," Hildahl says.
He says the man, who was 88 at the time of the attack, "could barely walk and he still had the strength and the courage to stand in your way" as he tried to stop his wife from being attacked.
"You hit him almost 40 times in the head," Hildahl says in the video. "I haven't even seen gang beatings where someone gets it that much."
'They were more fragile'
Bannab stays silent for much of the questioning but after more than an hour and a half, he starts talking.
Bannab admits to the attacks in detail. He said the man was sitting at the kitchen table when he entered the victims' home and was at first friendly to him because he thought he was the paper boy.
When the man gets up to shake his hand and repeatedly asks him why he is there, he hit the man, Bannab said in the tape. He then attacked and sexually assaulted his wife, who was in a wheelchair when Bannab found her.
When Hildahl tries to find out why he did it and why he targeted the couple, Bannab at first doesn't seem to have an answer.
"They were more fragile compared to the other people. I just went up to the house and I thought it sounded quiet," he says.
But later, Bannab says it has to do with all "the God stuff" and "the devil stuff" that has been happening to him over the two weeks prior to the crimes.
He says he believed God wanted him to have sex with someone before the sun set that day. He says he had been spending a lot of time inside and he thought YouTube videos were giving him messages and talking to him.
He says he thought the world was going to end if he didn't do it and everyone on Earth would die.
'How am I going to live with myself?'
"The last little while I thought I was supposed to have sex with someone," he says on the videotaped statement. "That's something I needed to do before the day was over because some terrible things would happen if I didn't. But I bet I was wrong ... that's a stupid thing to think. Why would he want something that terrible?"
Bannab tells Hildahl he is disgusted with himself and wishes he hadn't committed the crimes.
"How can somebody convince themselves that much to do such a heinous thing?" he said. "How am I going to live with myself?"
Bannab becomes emotional for only a few moments during the several-hour long questioning. When Hildahl leaves the room briefly, Bannab continues talking to himself and writes a brief apology letter to the victims and their families.
He says he had to stop because he didn't know what to say.
"I don't care what happens to me," he says after Hildahl leaves the room.
The trial will now take a break until January 2018 when testimony will resume.