Saskatchewan

'I believe I'm responsible': Redwood testifies in own defence at Regina murder trial

Accused killer Duran Redwood says he believes he is responsible for the death of his former girlfriend Celeste Yawney. He is charged with second-degree murder in Yawney's death.

Duran Redwood is accused of killing then-girlfriend Celeste Yawney in 2015

Duran Redwood has entered a plea of not guilty to second-degree murder in the death of 33-year-old Celeste Yawney. His trial is underway at Regina’s Court of Queen’s Bench. (CBC)

Accused killer Duran Redwood says he believes he is responsible for the May 2015 death of his former girlfriend Celeste Yawney.

Redwood covered his face as he sobbed, pausing to take deep breaths while testifying at his murder trial.

The 30-year-old is charged with second-degree murder in Yawney's death.

Redwood told the court he blacked out and doesn't remember what led to Yawney's death, but described a night of drinking and doing what he believed to be cocaine.

He said he woke up at Yawney's place the following day, May 24, and found her dead in the bathtub.

"I freaked out and was asking her to wake up," Redwood testified, saying Yawney was cold to the touch.

"She wouldn't wake up."

Defence lawyer Kevin Hill asked Redwood if he caused Yawney's death, or thinks he did.

"I believe I did," Redwood testified. "I believe I'm responsible."

Yawney was found dead in her home in May 2015. Her then-boyfriend Duran Redwood was charged with her murder. (Facebook)

Redwood said that on the night before he found Yawney's body, the two of them went to Houston's Pizza for just one drink.

"We didn't want to drink anymore," he told the court. 

Redwood said he ended up drinking four and a half schooners of beer in less than two hours, while Yawney had three vodkas. 

He also recounted two trips to a Regina beer store that night while the couple was drinking with Redwood's friend. 

Evidence of blunt force trauma

Last week, the Crown finished calling witnesses, including Saskatchewan's Chief forensic pathologist Dr. Shaun Ladham, who testified that Yawney died from blunt force trauma to the head and trunk.

Ladham said Yawney was likely punched, kicked and stomped, which caused broken ribs and internal bleeding in her abdomen and along her scalp.

When asked if he hit her, Redwood told the court "I can't say that I didn't."

The Crown suggested to Redwood Tuesday that the couple was arguing that night, that Yawney broke up with Redwood by text, and he was angry. 

"She was kind of giving you the heave ho that night," Crown prosecutor Constance Hottinger said to Redwood. "That made you lose control."

"I don't know," Redwood replied. 

The Crown read out text messages from Yawney to Redwood, starting with a photo of a smashed TV in her bedroom and "enough said."

Redwood said he woke up on May 24, 2015 and found Yawney dead in her bathtub. He told the court he couldn't recall the events leading to her death. (CBC News)

According to text records, Redwood asked Yawney to pick him up. 

Yawney declined and said goodbye to Redwood, suggesting that maybe his ex-girlfriend would love him. 

Redwood said he didn't recall the texts, nor did he recall hurting Yawney. When asked if the night was just a blur, he said it was. 

Prosecution questions inconsistencies

Redwood was asked by the Crown why he told an officer on May 24, 2015 that he remembered hitting Yawney in the head while she was on the ground.

Redwood told the court that he might not have been truthful with the officer at the time. 

He said that he was telling the officer what he wanted to hear to "get it over with," saying he hoped that would be best for his kids.​

Hottinger also asked Redwood about a toxicology report that said Yawney had no cocaine in her system. Redwood agreed they must not have taken cocaine.

Although his friend who was there that night previously told the court that Redwood shoved Yawney, Redwood said he didn't remember that. 

"You are remembering selectively," Hottinger said. "You don't want to remember the bad stuff."

"I don't remember the bad stuff," Redwood said. 

Events vary between Redwood and informant

Redwood's description of events varied greatly from that of one of his acquaintances, who spoke before the jury previously.

The 36-year-old witness, who cannot be identified due to a publication ban, said the accused suspected Yawney of cheating with his friend, went to her home, kicked in her door and proceeded to assault her even though she was alone.

The witness said Redwood dragged Yawney's unconscious body to the bathtub and ran the water "figuring it would snap her out of it."

The witness also told the court that Redwood talked about concentrating his hits to her abdomen to cut down on bruising. 

Dr. Ladham said he was surprised to see the extent of Yawney's internal injuries due to the minimal bruising on her stomach. 

Redwood said he was just talking about what the Crown might say in the case against him following the preliminary hearing. 

Redwood's testimony marked the last piece of evidence presented to the jury.

Closing arguments are set to go ahead on Thursday.

Follow the tweets CBC reporter Alex Soloducha sent live from the courtroom. On mobile? Click here.

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