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Accused murderer experienced with firearms

BY KEITH LACEY A Garson senior will take the witness stand this morning to present his version of what happened the day he shot a neighbour heÂ?d been feuding with outside his home 16 months ago.
BY KEITH LACEY

A Garson senior will take the witness stand this morning to present his version of what happened the day he shot a neighbour heÂ?d been feuding with outside his home 16 months ago.

Defence counsel Donald Plaunt is expected to call Jerry Paiement as his firstÂ?and perhaps onlyÂ?witness this morning.

Paiement, 65, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the shooting death of Mark Houle, 37.

PaiementÂ?s trial has heard Paiement and Houle, whose father lived two doors down from PaiementÂ?s residence on Falconbridge Road in Garson, had a longstanding feud with Paiement. Paiement had told many people he didnÂ?t like the fact Houle continually trespassed onto his property.

Veteran police officers and neighbours have testified Paiement admitted to shooting Houle after the two got into a heated argument around 8 pm on
June 5, 2001.

Houle was pronounced dead at hospital in Sudbury after being shot once at close range from a .44-calibre handgun Paiement had retrieved from inside his home.

The CrownÂ?s final witness, William Harford, a professional firearms examiner, testified about proper maintenance, cleaning and safety of firearms, in particular the Smith and Wesson owned by Paiement.

Any experienced gun owner, like Paiement, would know you should never point a gun toward anyone at any time, said Harford.

Â?You keep your finger off the trigger at all times unless you are ready to fire the gun,Â? he said.

All safety courses teach gun owners to never trust safety mechanisms and to go through a series of safety checks every time you use the weapon, he said.

A Smith and Wesson .44 calibre revolver is a high-powered weapon, one of the most powerful restricted handguns allowed for sale in Canada, he said.

In earlier testimony, Paiement told Greater Sudbury Police Sgt. Robin Chiupka during an interview he felt sorry about what happened, Â?but you know, you can only take so much.Â?

Paiement admitted to him he went inside his home, unlocked the revolver from a cabinet and went outside where Houle was.

Victim had been drinking

Houle commented, Â?you donÂ?t scare me with the pellet gunÂ? after he showed him the revolver in a waistband in his pants, said Chiupka.

Chiupka testified tests showed Houle had a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit allowed to operate a motor vehicle in Canada.

Small traces of cannabis were found in HouleÂ?s blood.

PaiementÂ?s friend Susan Valliers testified she met Paiement during a hunting trip about 15 years ago and they became good friends.

They joined a Sudbury area gun club and would shoot at targets on a regular basis over the past 15 years.

Paiement was a dedicated marksman who took great pride in the safe handling of his firearms and knew all safety rules and regulations well, said Valliers.

When asked if Paiement was an accurate marksman, Valliers responded Â?heÂ?s a good shotÂ?.

She regularly visited Paiement at his residence and had spent four hours with him just before the incident with Houle took place, she said.

Paiement had told him over the course of many years that he didnÂ?t like the fact Houle continually trespassed onto his property, said Valliers.

Houle frequently tresspassed

Â?Jerry told me he would do it deliberately and that made him upset and angry,Â? she said.

Instead of using the sidewalk or walking around his property, Houle would simply cut through PaiementÂ?s yard and Paiement Â?didnÂ?t like itÂ?, she said.

During her many visits, she personally saw Houle cross onto PaiementÂ?s property at least 50 times, she said.

Al Beschamps, former president of the Sudbury Rifle and Reels Gun Club, an experienced gun safety instructor and chief range officer, testified all experienced firearms owners know they should never point any gun at anyone at any time.

Â?You are taught not to rely on any mechanical safety device at any time,Â? he said.

Almost all handguns have a Â?hammer lockÂ? which prevents a bullet from being fired unless the trigger is jolted back with force, he said.

Â?Unless the hammer lock is removed, the gun wonÂ?t fire the bullet,Â? he said.

Paiement was a regular visitor to the gun club and had successfully completed safety courses, he said.

He had never witnessed or heard of Paiement ever using any handgun in an unsafe manner, he said.

Paiement was also dedicated to helping out at the club to organize tournaments and other functions, he said.

Â?I wish there were as many people that did as much as he did,Â? said Beschamps. Â?It would be a much better club, actually.Â?

Dr. Laura Piccinin testified Houle had no vital signs when he was rushed to the St. JosephÂ?s Health Centre emergency department minutes after being shot.

Doctors tried numerous resuscitation techniques, but they all failed and Houle was pronounced dead several minutes after arriving at hospital.

The Crown and defence counsel are expected to present closing submissions Monday before a six-man, five-woman jury.

Justice Louise Gauthier will make her closing charge to the jury before deliberations begin.