Victim's mother testifies at double-murder trial

A Winnipeg court heard today from the mother of one of two men gunned down at an Elmwood-area house party in 2009.
Emergency crews outside a Martin Avenue house where two 18-year-old men were fatally shot on Dec. 5, 2009. (CBC)

A Winnipeg court heard today from the mother of one of two men gunned down at an Elmwood-area house party in 2009.

The mother of Tyler "T.J." Hawula was at the Dec. 5, 2009, house party on the 400 block of Martin Avenue when her son and Matthew Reynolds, both 18, were fatally shot. A third teen was also shot, but he survived.

Hawula's mother told court the shooting happened in a matter of seconds. She was in the living room talking to her son's friend and another one of her children when two men stormed in through the front door.

She said the intruders were wearing bandanas covering part of their faces and one of them started shooting. She grabbed her child and told him to go to his room and then saw one of the men shoot one of her son's friends.

She said she later found Hawula and Reynolds wounded in the kitchen. She chased the suspects out of the house screaming, "What the hell are you doing? I have kids in here."

Charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder in connection with the shooting are two men who were 16 and 17 years old at the time and cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

More testimony from witnesses who were at the house party will be heard when the trial resumes next week.

The court is also expected to hear from the surviving shooting victim.

Hawula's mother was supposed to testify on Wednesday, but it was postponed that day while defence lawyers cross-examined another witness from the party.

That witness, who is now 21 years old, told the court she saw two men showing off their knives in the kitchen before they were kicked out of the party.

The woman said she later heard the front door of the house getting kicked in shortly after midnight and saw two men who were covered up and armed.

'Shot in the stomach,' witness says

The woman testified that she ducked under a table and saw Reynolds being shot at first.

"The shooter then pointed it at T.J. and he was shot in the stomach," the witness told the court.

The woman testified that she thought the situation was a joke until she heard the firearm being cocked again.

"I started screaming, I started freaking out," she said.

The witness told the court that she and her boyfriend held Reynolds in their arms moments before he died.

"We were looking at Matt, holding Matt," the woman testified. "We heard him take his last breath."

Defence lawyers questioned the witness on Wednesday afternoon about how much detail she has remembered since the incident took place three years ago.

The defence also asked the woman how much liquor she had consumed that night, and whether any drugs were present at the party.

She replied that she was sober that night, but she acknowledged that her earlier statements to police may have been different because she had blocked out many memories of the incident.