A Beaver Dam man accused of trying to kill his former lover testified Monday he doesn't remember shooting her, but recalls thinking, "What have I done?"
Benjamin Nason, 38, who took the stand in his own defence at his attempted murder trial in Fredericton, told the jury he had been drinking the night of Jan. 28 and had planned to take his own life.
Beth Ann Wallace, 40, suffered a single gunshot wound to her upper body, outside her home in Fredericton's Lincoln Heights subdivision during the early morning hours of Jan. 29.
Nason told the courtroom he remembers going to Wallace's house, hitting her with the butt of his gun and grabbing the phone from her, but he has no memory of struggling with her, chasing her out the door, or shooting her.
Although a neighbour testified earlier about hearing Wallace screaming, Nason said he doesn't remember that. He said the next thing he remembers is standing on Wallace's front step and hearing a neighbour saying something.
After he drove away from Wallace's, he said he remembers thinking, "What have I done?"
Nason said he had no reason to shoot Wallace, with whom he says he had a monogamous relationship from August 2010 until March 2012, when she had "issues" with his smoking and drinking.
Wallace previously testified they were "friends with benefits," but never a couple.
Nason said some people have been calling it "some kind of crime of passion.
"That had nothing to do with this," he said, noting they had remained friends and entered a business partnership in June 2012, building homes to resell, with Wallace fronting the money and him doing the labour.
He said he was sorry, that Wallace didn't deserve to be shot, and he hopes she forgives him.
During cross-examination by Crown prosecutor Darlene Blunston, the courtroom heard that Nason is very familiar with guns, having started hunting at the age of 14.
Blunston asked if it's logical to assume that a high-powered rifle, shot at close range, is meant to kill. Nason said it was.
Earlier in the trial, which began on Aug. 19, Wallace testified that Nason had come to her home with a rifle, during the early morning hours of Jan. 29, and threatened to kill her.
She was shot in the back, near her shoulder, as she fled down her driveway to a neighbour's house.
Wallace has undergone seven surgeries to repair her arm and still requires additional surgeries, the courtroom heard.
Peter Corey, the defence lawyer, asked the accused whether Wallace's testimony about what happened was correct.
Nason said she had no reason to lie, and that he doesn't believe she would lie.
Last Friday, an RCMP ballistics expert told the jury that spent bullet casings found at the scene came from Nason's gun — a Browning 270-calibre bolt-action rifle — and that the weapon did not discharge accidentally.
'Woman is the root of all evil'
The Crown said there seems to be a lot Nason doesn't remember.
She referred to Wallace's earlier testimony that Nason was upset on Jan. 24, about some text messages she had received from other men, and Wallace repeatedly asking Nason to leave her alone.
Nason said he doesn't remember saying on Jan. 29 that if he couldn't have Wallace, no one could. He also doesn't remember saying, "One of us or both of us are going to die."
He said he doesn't know what he meant in his suicide note when he wrote: "P.S. Woman is the root of all evil," but that he doesn't think he was upset with a woman.
Asked why he hid his gun in his bedroom ceiling, if he didn't remember shooting Wallace, he said he did that about 12 hours later and remembers bits and pieces of what the RCMP told him.
Asked why he was at Wallace's, he replied: "I've asked myself a hundred times, why?"
Nason, a father of three, testified he had been drinking with his brother-in-law during the evening of Jan. 28 and returned home after midnight, where he continued drinking.
He said he wrote a suicide note to his parents, grabbed a few beers and a rifle before leaving his house. He said he didn't know where he was going, but thinks he left to commit suicide.
He was upset that a house he and Wallace were building together had burned down on Jan. 20, after he went there drunk in the middle of the night and spilled some gas while trying to start the generator, he said.
He drove to the site of that house, where he thinks he fell asleep for a while, drank some more, then went to Wallace's.
Nason said he remembers Wallace telling him that he was "hammered" and that he should sleep on the couch.
He said he started drinking a lot more — every second or third day — after he had a stroke in January 2012. He also takes Oxycontin, Dilaudid and morphine for chronic back pain, but testified he was not taking any on the day in question.
The Crown and defence are expected to give their final arguments Monday afternoon.
Justice Judy Clendening must give her instructions to the jury before the seven men and five women begin their deliberations.