Jury to start deliberations in Chipman, Alta., double-murder trial

A 12-person jury is being asked to decide whether Raymond Nickerson fired his gun in self-defence or whether he deliberately killed two men.

Raymond Nickerson accused of shooting Jason Williams and Terry Sutton

Blood-stained front sidewalk in front of the house in Chipman where two men were shot. (RCMP/Court exhibit)

A 12-person jury is being asked to decide whether Raymond Nickerson fired his gun in self-defence or whether he deliberately killed two men.

Nickerson pleaded not guilty to two counts of second-degree murder for the April 2017 deaths of Jason Williams and Terry Sutton in Chipman, Alta., northeast of Edmonton. 

Defence lawyer Akram Attia said this was a "case about self-defence and the defence of others." 

Attia said 40-year-old Nickerson went to bed around 10:30 p.m. on April 2, with an early work day ahead of him. But then he heard fireworks coming from the Sutton's house across the street around 11:20 p.m. 

The two households had a history of animosity toward each other. 

During his testimony last week, Nickerson said he yelled at the Sutton's to stop lighting fireworks. 

Misti Sutton testified she was celebrating her birthday that night with her husband and Williams. 

Misti and Nickerson's wife, Tina, got into a yelling match from across the street. Misti eventually approached the house with her husband Terry in tow. Nickerson said he retrieved his gun from the bedroom. 

A fight broke out between the two women in the entryway of the house, Nickerson said. 

With the two women entangled on the floor, Nickerson said Terry walked toward him, and he was convinced the man was reaching for his gun. 

Nickerson said he shot Terry Sutton in the abdomen. When Williams appeared at the door, Nickerson shot him in the head. 

Attia said the shots were in quick succession.

"They were panic shots from a man fighting for his life," he said.  

Attia said "the threat was imminent," since the RCMP detachment is about 30 minutes away from Chipman and response time is slow. The jury should find Nickerson not guilty, as he was acting in self-defence, he said. 

Terry Sutton and Jason Williams were best friends. (Facebook)

The Crown argued that it was not an act of self-defence. Crown prosecutor Katrina Stewart Lund said Nickerson had to unlock his gun, unlock the ammunition, load the gun and turn the safety off. 

Lund said this was, "a verbal argument to which Mr. Nickerson introduced a firearm." 

She said just because the Sutton's went over to the residence during an argument, it does not mean there was a threat of force. Lund added that instead of grabbing the readily available pellet gun, Nickerson grabbed one of the deadliest weapons at his disposal. 

As a result, Nickerson was "clearly not acting in the heat of passion," said Lund. "Or a sudden, impulsive act, but rather one that he prepared himself for." 

The jury will begin deliberations on Tuesday. 

With files from Janice Johnston