Former wife describes Darryl Sheepway's 'double life,' at Whitehorse murder trial

In several hours of riveting and emotional testimony, Katherine Sheepway Scheck described how her marriage was badly foundering in the months before Christopher Brisson's killing, as Sheepway spiraled into drug addiction and deceit.

Sheepway on trial for 1st degree murder in 2015 death of Christopher Brisson

Darryl Sheepway is on trial for first degree murder in the 2015 death of Christopher Brisson in Whitehorse. Yukon Supreme Court has scheduled four weeks for the trial. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

The former wife of Darryl Sheepway — on trial for murder in the 2015 death of Christopher Brisson — testified against him on Tuesday in Yukon Supreme Court.

In several hours of riveting and emotional testimony, Katherine Scheck described how her marriage was badly foundering in the months before Brisson's killing, as Sheepway spiraled into drug addiction and deceit.

Sheepway, 39, has admitted to killing Brisson on Aug. 28, 2015, during a rendezvous where Sheepway was hoping to secure crack cocaine. During that meeting, Sheepway shot Brisson dead and later dumped the body near Miles Canyon. 

He has pleaded not guilty to the charge of first-degree murder.

Scheck says she knew nothing about Sheepway's crime until almost a year later, when he confessed it to her. She immediately contacted police, leading to Sheepway's arrest. He was charged in August 2016.

Scheck did not appear in the Whitehorse courtroom in person on Tuesday. Instead, she testified by closed circuit television.

Scheck had applied to be allowed to testify from outside the courtroom, and Justice Leigh Gower agreed. In her affidavit, Scheck said she was extremely angry at Sheepway, and her testimony might suffer if she were forced to be in the room with him. 

'A double life' 

Sheepway was clearly distraught throughout Scheck's testimony, often burying his head in his hands and sobbing loudly.

The two had met while working together as guards at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre and married in 2012. Scheck described a difficult relationship that became even more strained after their daughter was born the following year.

Darryl Sheepway was known to some people as an avid skier and biker. 'From the time I met him, all throughout our relationship, he was always laying the groundwork for leading a double life,' his former wife testified on Tuesday. (Yukon News)

"From the time I met him, all throughout our relationship, he was always laying the groundwork for leading a double life," Scheck said.

"Looking back, it was not a healthy relationship and he treated me really horribly."

Scheck said she had known since 2014 that Sheepway struggled with marijuana abuse, and had sought counselling. By the summer of 2015, though, he was a daily user of crack cocaine. Scheck initially had no idea, despite the fact they were both home on parental leave with their second, newborn child.

On the morning of Aug. 28, 2015, she noticed that someone had been using the couple's credit card to withdraw money and cash advances — $1,200 had been withdrawn over several preceding weeks.

Scheck said at first she thought that it was fraud, and Sheepway seemed equally concerned and puzzled. She said he suggested the possibility of identity theft. Scheck talked to the credit card company, and RCMP.

Scheck said she was suspicious though, since Sheepway was the only other person with access to the card, and knew the card's PIN.

She questioned him, she said, and he denied knowing anything about it.

"Darryl is really good at denying things and lying about things," Scheck told the court. 

"His denial was so convincing that it left me confused and still not 100 per cent sure it was him. Pretty sure, but he was so convincing and genuine that I was just confused and upset."

They continued talking about it until early afternoon, when Scheck had to go pick up her daughter. 

Sheepway called Brisson that afternoon, and arranged the rendezvous that would end with Brisson dead in a ditch.

The dealer and the buyer

The court also heard on Tuesday an audio recording of Sheepway speaking to police in April 2016. In it, he described the nature of his relationship to Brisson.

Christopher Brisson's body was found on Sept. 1, 2015, near Miles Canyon in Whitehorse. (Facebook)

RCMP at that time were still investigating Brisson's death. They were questioning Sheepway because his number had been found on Brisson's phone.

Sheepway had just returned to Yukon from Ontario, where he had been in treatment for addiction. He had not yet told anybody about his role in Brisson's death.

Sheepway told police then that he had met Brisson in early August 2015, after getting his number from a friend. Sheepway said he began buying crack from Brisson almost daily, until Aug. 28.

The two would meet at various locations, Sheepway said, usually arranged by text messaging. He says he never knew anything else about Brisson, including his name, until after Brisson was dead.

He learned Brisson's name from a newspaper, he told police. He had only ever called him "man."

In the recording, Sheepway also said he remembered wondering who he'd buy drugs from now. Brisson had proved to be a reliable and fast dealer, he told police at the time.

Discovery of drug use

According to Scheck, Sheepway told her about his crack cocaine use within hours of Brisson's death. The two were back at home that night, talking again about the credit card withdrawals.

When Sheepway finally told her about his drug use, Scheck said she was shocked. She told the court she never suspected he would "dabble with hard drugs."

The two agreed that Sheepway would seek addictions treatment the following Monday, Scheck told the court. The next day was Saturday, and Scheck resolved to watch him closely all weekend.

The two spent most of the next day doing chores around the house, she told the court. At one point, she caught Sheepway smoking crack in the bathroom. She said they argued, and she took his drugs away.

The suspension bridge at Miles Canyon in Whitehorse is a popular spot for photographs, but Scheck said she found Sheepway's suggestion to go there for a family picture 'strange.' (Philippe Morin)

The following day, Scheck said the family decided to go into town and Sheepway suggested a stop at Miles Canyon for a family photograph. 

Earlier in the trial, the court saw video evidence of Sheepway explaining that he wanted to go to Miles Canyon that day to see if there was any activity in the area where he had dumped Brisson's body, two days earlier.

Scheck recalled thinking Sheepway's desire for a photo was uncharacteristic and "very, very strange."

Later that night, back at home, Scheck said she found Sheepway with drugs again. He was extremely agitated, she said, and they immediately went and checked him into a detox facility.

He was in and out of detox in Yukon and Ontario in the following months. At one point, Scheck said, Sheepway told her he would be able to stay clean because his dealer was dead. He told her it was Brisson, whose body had been found in Miles Canyon.

Confesses to Scheck

By May, Sheepway was out of treatment, but estranged from Scheck. 

Scheck told the court that Sheepway called her from Prince George, B.C., on May 28, 2016. She said he told her his life wasn't worth living anymore, and he'd spend the rest of his life in jail.

Scheck said she didn't understand. 

"That guy — I killed that guy," Scheck said he told her. 

Scheck kept Sheepway on the line, trying to get him to explain exactly what happened, while using another phone to record their conversation. She said she was shaking and felt sick to her stomach. She said she also managed to get somebody to call the police, while she stayed on the phone with Sheepway.

Scheck said Sheepway did not say anything to her then about Brisson's death being an accident.

Police then managed to track Sheepway down and take him into custody. He was transferred to Whitehorse Correctional Centre within a week, the court heard.

Scheck made a number of visits to Sheepway while he was in custody. She told court that during one of those visits, he went into more detail about what happened with Brisson.

He told her it felt good to be able to talk about it, Scheck testified.

The trial continues on Wednesday.

With files from Alexandra Byers