Calgary trial begins more than a decade after accused's friend was shot dead
Crown alleges Russell Tessier shot Allan Berdahl five times in the head and left his body in a roadside ditch
The first-degree murder trial of Russell Steven Tessier began Monday — more than a decade after he allegedly shot a close friend five times in the head and left his body in a ditch north of Calgary.
Allan Gerald Berdahl's body was found on March 16, 2007, beside Township Road 282, east of Carstairs, but Tessier wasn't arrested and charged with first-degree murder until December 2015.
In her opening statement, Crown prosecutor Britta Kristensen told court the evidence in the case was "almost entirely circumstantial."
Kristensen told the jury of three women and nine men that a series of events suggest Tessier "may have some involvement" in Berdahl's death.
"But, when you add up all of the coincidences, it is clear that Mr. Tessier killed Allan Berdahl by shooting him in the head five times and then drove away from the scene," she said.
Kristensen said the 36-year-old victim — whom she described as "a bit of a drifter, a liar and a con artist" — met Tessier in late 2006.
She said they travelled to Winnipeg together, attended auctions and went to Lloyd's roller rink together. They ate and went for coffee and Denny's and Berdahl sometimes crashed at Tessier's basement suite.
Vintage vehicle cause of friction
Kristensen said the two men also shared ownership of a 1960 Ambassador car.
"Although the exact motive for the murder is unknown, there was friction between the men over that car in the weeks leading up to the murder," she said.
Kristensen told the jury that evidence collected by police in 2007 will be presented throughout the trial, and that Tessier attended the Shooting Edge gun range and store two days before the murder to pick up a revolver he had on consignment for "several years."
She said the last time the two men were seen together was at a Mac's store in northeast Calgary in the early hours of March 16, 2007.
"Berdahl's body was located just north of Hwy 581, east of Carstairs, around 8:30 am," said Kristensen. "Eight hours after he was seen buying snacks at the Mac's store."
She added that Berdahl had plans to leave for Winnipeg on the day of his death.
Court also heard from two civilians who found Berdahl's body, as well as employees from Shooting Edge.
Tessier, who is now in his early 50s, is facing a three-week trial.
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