Man who Kevin Mantla stayed with testifies about hours surrounding fatal attack

Witness describes watching movies, smoking crack with Kevin Mantla in the hours before Elvis Lafferty was murdered and his partner was attacked.

Only witness to testify Monday says man accused of murder, attempted murder smoked crack and drank vodka

Kevin Mantla is pictured at the courthouse in Yellowknife on Jan. 25, 2018. He is charged with second-degree murder, attempted murder and aggravated assault. (Randall McKenzie/CBC)

A Gameti man who was an acquaintance of Kevin Mantla says Mantla stayed at his apartment on the night of the grisly attacks on Elvis Lafferty and his partner.

Johnathan Wetrade told the court that he and Mantla smoked crack that evening and Mantla drank vodka. Wetrade was the only witness to testify on Monday, the beginning of the second week of Mantla's trial for murder, attempted murder and aggravated assault.

Wetrade told the court he flew from Gameti to Yellowknife on the same Sept. 27, 2015 flight as Mantla, less than 24 hours before Mantla allegedly stabbed Lafferty to death and attempted to murder Lafferty's partner, who is also Mantla's ex-girlfriend.

Photos of the crime scene submitted as evidence show a blood-stained scene with the home's hallway walls, floor and bed mattress streaked and stained with blood.

Elvis Lafferty was pronounced dead at Stanton Territorial Hospital after a violent attack in Yellowknife in 2015. (Facebook)

A publication ban prevents identifying any of the ex-girlfriend's children, who were in the apartment at the time of the attacks and, as a consequence, the ex-girlfriend herself.

Wetrade says Mantla seemed upset at the airport in Gameti. He said they spoke for about five minutes.

"He just said he was sad for what she (his ex-girlfriend) did to him," said Wetrade.

Wetrade said he overheard Mantla talking "to his woman" on a payphone at the terminal in Yellowknife after the plane landed, but says he doesn't recall anything that was said. The judge saw closed circuit television footage of Mantla, wearing a backpack, talking on the payphone as Wetrade wandered nearby.

According to phone records, Mantla made two calls to the Lanky Court residence of his ex-girlfriend and Lafferty. The calls lasted a minute and a half and two minutes. That morning, someone who gave their name as "Kevin" made four collect calls to the same number. None of them were accepted.

'Something bad is going to happen tonight'

Wetrade said he didn't remember much of what was said during the day and evening he spent with Mantla, because it happened more than two years ago and he had other things on his mind at the time: he was thinking about getting settled back in at his apartment, of relatives he had been visiting in Gameti, and health issues he was dealing with.

Prosecutor Blair MacPherson reminded Wetrade he had told police the morning after the attacks that the last thing Mantla had said to him was, "Something bad is going to happen tonight."

Wetrade said he didn't recall making the statement.

Wetrade said the evening he and Mantla got into Yellowknife, they watched movies in Wetrade's Crestview Manor apartment. Wetrade said they smoked crack cocaine and Mantla drank from a mickey of vodka he'd bought. Wetrade said Mantla was still up when he went to bed at about 1 a.m., but when he got up a few hours later, Mantla was gone and the front door was unlocked.

Wetrade locked the door and went back to bed, only to be awoken at six that morning by stones Mantla was throwing at his bedroom window while calling out to let him in. Wetrade said Mantla was not wearing the dark coat he had been wearing earlier. After letting Mantla in, he went back to bed, but he could hear Mantla pacing in the living room.

Wetrade said later that morning Mantla told him he was going to go back to his woman and to lock the door behind him. Wetrade said he noticed that a bag he had for garbage in the washroom was missing.

The trial continues today.