Nova Scotia

Kale Gabriel testifies in own defence in Ryan White homicide

Kale Leonard Gabriel told a jury Wednesday that his gun went off during a struggle with Ryan White in July 2010 in north-end Halifax, but he testified he did not pull the trigger.

Gabriel charged with second-degree murder in 2010 shooting death of White

Halifax Regional Police officers stand near the scene of the Ryan White homicide in north-end Halifax in 2010. (CBC)

Kale Leonard Gabriel told a jury Wednesday that his gun went off during a struggle with Ryan White in north-end Halifax in July 2010, but he testified he did not pull the trigger.

Gabriel is testifying in his own defence in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax at his second-degree murder trial in White's shooting death.

"My hand was on handle but I know 100 per cent I didn't pull the trigger," he told the court.

Gabriel testified he feared for his life at the time of the shooting and said there was price on his head for being a snitch. Gabriel said he earned the reputation after speaking to police about a crime in Yarmouth when he was a teenager.

That reputation followed Gabriel to Mulgrave Park, where he lived with his wife and three children in 2010. 

He said White told him there was a price on his head.

'There was a loud bang'

During testimony, Gabriel and his lawyer re-enacted a physical struggle he'd had at Mulgrave Park, where White was shot. 

Gabriel said he feared for his life and asked a former drug associate for a gun. That associate delivered him six bullets, a silver handgun, with a filed-down trigger guard. He was told to use the gun carefully.

On the night of the shooting, Gabriel said he left his home with some companions and saw White and another man. He said they were dressed in black, wearing masks, and he heard White say into a cellphone, "Hurry up bro. Bring your thing."

White reached for a gun, Gabriel testified, and that's when Gabriel kicked him in the head, trying to knock him out. He didn't succeed, and Gabriel said White got up and they became "entangled."

"He musta felt my gun and he was trying to pull it from my waist," Gabriel testified. "There was a loud bang and I didn't know if I was shot or Ryan was shot."

After White was shot, Gabriel said he left the scene and headed to Fort Needham Park to avoid police.

Gabriel and victim had a history

During his testimony Wednesday, Gabriel often stood at a map and used a black marker to describe events in Mulgrave Park.

Gabriel testified he had a number of prior run-ins with White. White, he said, had asked him to sell crack cocaine in Mulgrave Park, but Gabriel refused. White had a black handgun at the time, Gabriel said. 

He described another encounter with White at a convenience store. Gabriel told the court White asked him, "Why are you still here." Gabriel said he wasn't leaving.

He went on to testify about another incident, this one at a local hangout known as "Blaze Up." He testified White threatened him with a gun, which resulted in Gabriel taking out his own weapon. That situation was resolved without any gunfire.

Crown witnesses saw Gabriel and White fight

Last week, two Crown witnesses testified they saw White and Gabriel fighting on the night White was killed.

Both witnesses said the men started arguing while White was seated on the ground and Gabriel kicked him in the head.

Court was told White stood up and started wrestling with Gabriel. The witnesses said Gabriel pulled a handgun from his pocket and shot White in the chest. White later died in hospital. 

A firearms expert testified the shot that killed White was fired at very close range and left a single bullet hole in the clothes he was wearing. The expert said the shot was fired from a .38-calibre revolver.

Crown attorney Rick Woodburn will continue Gabriel's cross-examination on Thursday. 

The CBC's Preston Mulligan live blogged from the trial.