Nfld. & Labrador

Why was Dale Porter stabbed 17 times, Crown asks Al Potter, if it was self-defence?

Al Potter takes the stand for a second day at his first-degree murder trial Wednesday, rounding out all the witnesses the jury will hear from.

Potter says Porter was a 'strong man' and he couldn't get Porter off him

Al Potter, 55, with members of Dale Porter's family sitting behind him, at Supreme Court in St. John's. (Ariana Kelland/CBC)

The day began and ended the same way — with Al Potter standing in the witness box, rehashing what he says happened the night he stabbed Dale Porter multiple times, closing out the witnesses for Potter's first-degree murder trial.

Crown prosecutor Sheldon Steeves took the day at Supreme Court in St. John's to attempt to chip away at Potter's story of self-defence, while poking holes in his credibility.

"I knew I slashed at him three of four times," Potter said emphatically. "I tried to hit his hand with my knife so it would cut him and cause him pain and make him drop the knife."

"Did he drop the knife?" Steeves asked.

"No, he didn't drop the knife."

Potter has told the jury that he flashed his knife at Porter, a father of two from Conception Bay North, as a way to defuse a verbal and physical altercation between Porter and Potter's friend.

It escalated, he said, when Porter held out his own knife toward Potter's friend, and then at Potter himself. 

'Very strong man'

Porter's injuries — 17 stab wounds, many of which were deep, and four cuts, were done in an act of self-defence, Potter said.

"He was a very strong man. Very strong man, and heavy. Seemed like a thousand pounds on top of me. I couldn't get out from underneath him," he said.

"And I was stabbing down on top of him."

You knew you had to come up with a story. You were caught.- Sheldon Steeves

Potter, who said he is a skilled martial artist, though holds no belts, said he had blocked Porter's arm at one point.

"He didn't stab you, did he?" Steeves asked, later adding, "You stabbed him 17 times. Did you have wounds that needed medical attention?"

Potter said he "had a few nicks" and probably should have sought medical attention but didn't.

"He didn't inflict anything on you … given your martial arts training," Steeves quipped. 

A diagram created by medical examiner Dr. Nash Denic shows the extent of Dale Porter's injuries, including 17 stab wounds, four cuts and bruising. The emergency room doctor who treated Porter said he lost significant amounts of blood, having been cut in the jugular vein. (Ariana Kelland/CBC)

Steeves also pointed out the medical examiner testified Porter had defensive wounds on his arms and that Potter, by all accounts, did not.

"If I remembered every single wound, I'd tell you every single wound," Potter said, often repeating that he was telling the truth of what happened that night, even when the Crown suggested he made up the story after confessing to an undercover officer.

"You got caught after what happened with [the undercover officer]. You knew you had to come up with a story. You were caught," Steeves said.

Potter also told the court the knife that was entered into evidence earlier in the trial appeared to be the knife Porter was wielding.

Another lie, according to Steeves, who suggested Potter or some associate of him planted the knife in a freshwater stream in Brigus, not far from where Potter was in the days following the stabbing.

Potter told the jury Wednesday that he believes this knife was the one Porter was carrying the morning of his death, on June 29, 2014. (Ariana Kelland/CBC)

"You sort of made all of this up, about the second knife," Steeves said.

"No, I didn't make up a story about the second knife," Potter insisted, at times appearing exasperated by retelling the story and answering questions. 

Potter remained confident and at times insistent that he is not guilty of the stabbing and that he would have avoided it at all costs, but had no choice. 

Before the jury left for the day, Justice Garrett Handrigan told them to return Monday afternoon for closing arguments.

"Between now and then, do not go to your places of employment," Handrigan said, adding they must not talk about the trial to anyone as deliberations will soon begin.

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About the Author

Ariana Kelland

Reporter

Ariana Kelland is a reporter with the CBC Newfoundland and Labrador bureau in St. John's.