Closing arguments begin at Darryl Sheepway murder trial in Whitehorse

Sheepway has admitted to fatally shooting Christopher Brisson in 2015 during a drug deal rendezvous, but has pleaded not guilty to the charge of first-degree murder.

Sheepway charged with 1st-degree murder in 2015 death of Christopher Brisson

Closing arguments were set to begin Thursday at the first-degree murder trial of Darryl Sheepway in Whitehorse.

Sheepway has admitted to fatally shooting Christopher Brisson in 2015 during a drug deal rendezvous, but has pleaded not guilty to the charge of first-degree murder. He says he was intoxicated by drugs at the time, and would plead guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter. 

Court heard from another psychiatrist this week, testifying about the possible effects of drug use on Sheepway's ability to think rationally and make decisions. The trial has heard that Sheepway had become a heavy user of crack cocaine in the weeks before Brisson's death.

Dr. Philip Klassen, a Toronto psychiatrist who has studied cocaine use and criminal intent, told the Yukon Supreme Court on Wednesday that he doubts Sheepway's addiction had affected his ability to consider consequences. Klassen also said that Sheepway's behaviour immediately before and after Brisson's shooting suggests he had not lost his ability to make decisions.

He said disorganization in thought and action is a sign of somebody in an abnormal mental state due to heavy cocaine use. 

Klassen noted Sheepway took steps to cover up the crime after Brisson's death.

Klassen was called to testify before Justice Leigh Gower by Crown prosecutors. There is no jury.

Klassen's appearance followed earlier testimony by another psychiatrist, Dr. Shabehram Lohrasbe, who said Sheepway was likely in an abnormal, "hyper-reactive" state when he shot Brisson. According to Lohrasbe, Sheepway was likely unable to grasp the consequences of his actions.

'A hole inside Mr. Sheepway'

Klassen's testimony also delved into Sheepway's life before the crime. He argued that Sheepway's troubles began long before, and stemmed from a deeply unhappy childhood.

"I think there is a hole inside Mr. Sheepway," Klassen told the court, "the hole you get when you feel you are not loved."

Defence lawyer Vincent Larochelle challenged that, saying Sheepway had a family and a job, but things fell apart when he began using crack cocaine.

Court heard that Sheepway robbed gas stations, stole from his parents and turned to prostitution to help pay for his drug habits.

Closing arguments at the trial could wrap up later Thursday or Friday.

With files from Dave Croft