Man, 40, pleads not guilty in Chipman, Alta., double murder case

A 40-year-old man pleaded not guilty to two counts of second degree murder in Edmonton Court of Queen’s Bench Monday. The 15-day jury trial continues Tuesday.

Warning: This story contains graphic details

Ray Nickerson is facing two counts of second-degree murder. (CBC)

A 40-year-old man has pleaded not guilty to two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of two men in a small central Alberta village in 2017. 

In Edmonton Court of Queen's Bench Monday, Ray Nickerson pleaded not guilty in the shooting deaths of Terry Sutton, 39, and Jason Williams, 40, in Chipman, Alta., in April 2017. 

Crown prosecutor Christopher Williams said the shooting occurred the small community northeast of Edmonton after a dispute over fireworks. 

Williams said on April 2, 2017, friends and family were celebrating Sutton's wife's birthday. Those in attendance were drinking, and around 11 p.m. decided to light some fireworks. 

Williams said an argument broke out between the Nickerson and Sutton households over the fireworks

There was a physical altercation and then several gunshots — Sutton and Williams were dead, one at the bottom of the Nickerson's porch stairs, the other in the doorway. 

The first witness, Const. Michael Gaines, testified that he was the first on scene at the house where the two men were shot. 

Gaines said when he approached he saw one man at the bottom of the stairs. The man was bleeding from his head, and missing a portion of his skull. 

There was a second man in the doorway of the home who was bleeding from the abdomen with two women leaning over him. Gaines said one woman identified herself as the man's wife, and the other was her friend. The wife was crying and trying to stop the bleeding while her friend consoling her. 

Gaines said he ushered the two women away because he wasn't sure if it was safe. He said he then tended to the man and checked for a pulse, breathing and eye movement. 

"It was a blank stare," said Gaines. 

Gaines then went into the house to check for other people but he didn't find anyone. Gaines found several guns in a bedroom closet, which appeared to have trigger locks. Shortly after found a shotgun on the kitchen counter, which was open. 

The second witness, Cpl. Jennifer Brown arrested Nickerson about 50 metres from the home. She found three shotgun shells in his pocket. 

Brown described Nickerson as cooperative, and "stressed out, but very coherent." 

Justice Eric Macklin indicated to the jury that the defence would be making an argument for self-defence. 

The 15-day jury trial continues Tuesday.